Real Madrid (Getty Images)
Real Madrid take on local rivals Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon seeking to end a 12-year wait to win the “Decima” – the elusive 10th European Cup.
Have a look at the Real Madrid players that are aiming to bring the Champion League cup back to the Santiago Bernabeu once more.
Iker Casillas (SPAIN)
A hero of Real’s last Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park, Casillas, who turned 33 recently has overcome the most difficult 18 months of his 15-year career at the Santiago Bernabeu to lead his side out in Lisbon. The Spaniard has been Real Madrid’s first choice keeper in the Champions League and Copa del Rey, setting a new record of 962 minutes without conceding a goal.
Diego Lopez (SPAIN)
Lopez was brought into Real Madrid last season by previous manager Jose Mourinho due to Casillas’ injured hand. The former Sevilla keeper has been the number one choice in goal in La Liga.
Raphael Varane (FRANCE)
Rated as one of the top young defenders in Europe after a string of stunning performances last season, the 21-year-old has endured a frustrating year as a persistent knee injury has limited his first-team opportunities. However, he could start in Lisbon should Pepe fail to recover in time from a calf injury.
The Brazilian-born Portuguese international is in a race against time to be fit to play in his adopted homeland due to a calf strain.
Sergio Ramos (SPAIN)
The lynchpin of the Real defence, Ramos has won virtually every honour at club and international level barring the Champions League.
He exorcised the ghosts of his costly penalty miss against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals two years ago with two goals in this year’s semi-finals against the same opponents after which he claimed the competition “owes him one.”
Fabio Coentrao (PORTUGAL)
Much derided amongst the Madrid fans and press after his 30 million-euro ($41m, £24.4m) move from Benfica in 2011, Coentrao has become an important player in recent months as he shone in both attack and defence in Real’s Copa del Rey final win over Barcelona and the thrashing of Bayern in the semi-finals.
An undisputed starter under boss Carlo Ancelotti until a hamstring injury cost him his place in the team back in March, Marcelo may miss out on a starting place in Lisbon due to Coentrao’s fine form.
Dani Carvajal (SPAIN)
Carvajal has become a key part of the Real side in his first season with the first team since the club exercised a buy-back option to bring him back to the Bernabeu after one stellar season with Bayer Leverkusen last year.
Sami Khedira (GERMANY)
The German international has just returned from a seven-month injury lay-off after cruciate knee ligament damage, but despite his lack of match fitness his experiencehe could be preferred to the youth of Casemiro and Asier Illaramendi in the absence of the suspended Xabi Alonso.
Luka Modric (CROATIA)
Modric has become a fans’ favourite in his second season in the Spanish capital and will be charged with even more responsibility to dominate the midfield in Alonso’s absence. Well-known for his excellent passing and ability to shoot from range, but it is his defensive work that has often won the admiration of Ancelotti.
Angel di Maria (ARGENTINA)
A player transformed by a change of position, Di Maria’s energy is crucial to the balance of Madrid’s central midfield. The Argentine, who used to play in Lisbon for Benfica, has also remained a goal threat from his deeper role with 14 this season, including one against Atletico in the Copa del Rey back in January.
Asier Illarramendi (SPAIN)
A 37 million-euro ($50.7m, £30m) signing from Real Sociedad last July, Illarramendi is the favourite to replace Alonso but has often looked overawed in the biggest games so far this season.
A victim of Ancelotti’s switch to a 4-3-3 system, Isco has failed to find his ideal position after a promising start to the campaign, but will be called upon from the bench if Real need some magic to break down Atletico’s rigid defence as the game progresses.
Cristiano Ronaldo (PORTUGAL)
Even for a player so accustomed to breaking records, Cristiano Ronaldo’s 16 in 10 games in the Champions League this season has been a new high. Having already won the Champions League title at his time at Manchester United, the Portuguese has the chance to claim his first Champions League title in the white shirt.
Karim Benzema (FRANCE)
Ancelotti’s first-choice striker, Benzema has flourished under the Italian scoring 24 goals and just as importantly providing the perfect foil for the pace of Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Gareth Bale (WALES)
Bale has had a great first season with Real Madrid since he left Tottenham last summer. He had always been craving for Champions League games since he first tasted it with the London club. After Tottenham missed the chance to qualify for the European competition, the Welshman knew he’d have to leave to find European games elsewhere. He stands the chance to win his second cup after already helping Real Madrid win the Copa del Rey.
Carlo Ancelotti (ITALY)
The Italian manager stands to become only the second man after Bob Paisley to win the European Cup three times, having done so with AC Milan twice (2003 and 2007). Carlo Ancelotti is one of six men to have won the European Cup both as player and manager.
Ancelotti has now led Real Madrid to their first Champions League Final since they won it in 2002 after beating Bayer Leverkusen.
(With inputs from AFP)