Tuesday UCL Preview: Atletico aim to stun holders Real Madrid to edge closer to the final

Atletico Madrid hope to end their run of bad luck against Real Madrid in the Champions League, as Diego Simeone’s side look to dent their rivals bid of retaining the trophy.

Atletico’s home victory over Leicester was enough to secure their place in the semi-finals for a third time in four seasons, but they will need a big improvement on their 1-1 draw in the second leg of the quarter-finals in a bid to cause a shock at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Cristiano Ronaldo hit 100 Champions League goals in Real Madrid’s win over Bayern
image: 90min.com

Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick helped Real Madrid overcome a Bayern Munich comeback with a 4-2 extra time win over the German champions in the quarter-finals, as they remain on course to become the first team to retain the trophy in the Champions League era.

Atletico lost to Real Madrid in a penalty shootout in last season’s final and they will hope to score revenge over their rivals to keep alive their hopes of winning a first ever Champions League.

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane rejected the notion that his side are favourites to reach the final in Cardiff and knows his need to give it 100% in a fierce Madrid derby.

“It is 50-50 as it always is in the knockout stages,” said the Frenchman.

“We know each other very well. The rivalry with Atletico has not changed since I was a player. It’s a derby in the capital, it is intense but the rivalry remains the same.

“We are not favourites. We need to do everything well tomorrow and if we do, then we will see. Getting to the semi’s means you have done great so far but this is a new game.”

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone knows Real Madrid will attack his side from the offset and hopes his side remain focused on their task in hand, in a bid to take a step towards a third final in four years.

“They will try and hurt us from the off, ” said the 47-year-old.

“They will come out strong as they always do at home. They can play in different systems with Isco, James, Asensio. We need to be strong and stay as cool as possible. It will be tight but hopefully we can take advantage of the spaces we create.

“I always feel a bit scared before games. I am isolated from everything and with the tension it is normal. You have got a lot of responsibility and that gets bigger and bigger. I feel it facing any side, irrespective of the match and opposition.”

Saul Niguez scored Atletico’s vital goal in a 1-1 draw at Leicester
image: liveloaded.com

Team News

Real Madrid are still without Welsh winger Gareth Bale for the first leg of their semi-final against rivals Atletico Madrid, as the former Tottenham man remains sidelined with a calf injury.

Centre Back Pepe is also still out injured with broken ribs but otherwise Zinedine Zidane has a full strength squad to choose from, including French defender Raphael Varane who has overcome a hamstring problem.

Atletico Madrid have a few injury worries ahead of the short trip to the Santiago Bernabeu, with Belgium winger Yannick Carrasco set to face a late fitness test on a collarbone injury.

Former Real Madrid right back Juanfran is definitely out of contention with a thigh injury, while fellow defenders Jose Gimenez (groin), Sime Vrsaljko (knee) and midfielder Augusto Fernandez (knee) are also out injured.

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