Atletico Madrid are in search of their second trophy after clinching the La Liga through a superb run of performances. Diego Simeone’s side broke the Barcelona-Real Madrid hegemony and now stand to win their first Champions League trophy. Only their bitter rivals Real Madrid stand in their way, who themselves are desperate to claim the title. Real Madrid are hungry for that elusive decima. (Read: Real Madrid’s billion euro ‘Decima’ obsession)
Atletico have already outperformed this season by securing the La Liga, but Real were in the running to round off an incredible treble after winning the Copa del Rey in April but failed to keep pressure on Simeone’s men in the league. And now, known as the world’s richest club by income who have splashed more than 600 million euros ($822 million) on players over the past five years, Real Madrid are appearing in their 13th final, but the first since their last success in 2002.
After losing out on becoming the champions of their own territory, failure in Lisbon would be a massive blow to the club’s prestige. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale might have the final say in this conundrum, both being huge money buys for the club.
Atletico, known as “the mattress makers” after their red and white-striped shirts, and Real, who play in all-white and are nicknamed “the meringues”, have met only once before in continental competition, in the European Cup semi-finals in 1958-59. (Read: Five classic Atletico Madrid-Real Madrid clashes)
Real went through to what was their fourth consecutive final after winning a replay in Zaragoza when Ferenc Puskas scored the winner in a 2-1 success.
The city neighbours have met four times this season. In La Liga, Atletico won 1-0 at Real’s Bernabeu stadium and they drew 2-2 at the Calderon in the return, while in the two-legged King’s Cup semi-finals Atletico were on the end of a 5-0 aggregate drubbing.
Those encounters are unlikely to have much impact on the Champions League final, with Atletico, unbeaten in Europe this term and on a high after wrapping up the La Liga title on Saturday and Real under enormous pressure to avoid what would be a humiliating reverse.