Atletico will make the eight-kilometre trip across the city of Madrid to their rivals’ stadium knowing it will be the most crucial 90 minutes of the season.
By Ruari Daly
If you’re a betting man or woman your money will be on Real Madrid this Tuesday night. Then again, fate may just intervene and throw a curveball at you when you least expect it.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico will make the eight-kilometre trip across the city of Madrid to their rivals’ stadium knowing it will be the most crucial 90 minutes of the season. That is until the next 90 eight days. His side have fallen short in the last two games against Real Madrid at the final hurdle, watching on as their city rivals lift a historic 10th and just last year their 11th European Cup.
One distinct difference from previous meetings this time round, however, is over two legs; anything is possible. And when it is so, it can only favour the underdogs who have everything to gain.
Marcelo scored for Los Blancos with four minutes remaining to secure a narrow win over Valencia – and Zinedine Zidane’s side have scored 21 goals in the last 10 minutes this season, a remarkable feat displaying the tremendous character within the squad.
Real Madrid’s endeavours in the league will be put to one side for the next 10 days as they look to book their place in a 15th Champions League final. And history is on their side, having won in every final since 1981 when they fell to one of the greatest Liverpool sides in Paris.
Meanwhile three-time runners up Atletico Madrid will be looking to break their luck in competition and putting their city rivals out of Europe’s most prestigious competitions would move them one step closer.
A rampant Atletico who put in a five-star performance at Las Palmas was just about the perfect way to prepare for this game, although it will be a very different game and opponent.
Atletico haven’t won in a Madrid Derby meeting since 2016, and that streak of four games could continue and they may still progress to the final. That’s the sheer beauty of the away goal rule. Simeone’s side are resound for their organisation, defensive stability and killer instinct in front of goal. A scoring draw on Tuesday at the Bernabeu could see them progress if they can shut out out Zidane’s side in the return leg. It might just come down to the two superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann as to who comes out on top.
Regardless of the outcome, a pulsating two-legged tie awaits the fans of their respective clubs and football fans around the world. The city of Madrid will come to a virtual standstill to see if Los Blancos continue their dominance as the Kings of the city, or if Atletico slay the giant and go one step closer to carving their name on the European Cup.
Featured image: Little Savage, CC BY-SA 3.0