It is the biggest single game in all of Europe, one of the biggest in the world and Atletico Madrid now have the chance to shine on the biggest of stages. Perhaps even more than the national rivalry on display in last year’s match, this year’s championship is an historic game pitting Madrid’s two top teams against each other. While both clubs have significant injury concerns for the game, it appears that Atletico Madrid will have talismanic striker Diego Costa fit for the Champions League final.
Atletico is coming in to the European Championship after being the first team in a decade not named Real Madrid or Barcelona to win La Liga in Spain, and that was their first championship since the 1995-96 season. Guided by manager Diego Simeone, Los Rojiblancos have enjoyed a resurgence in their fortunes. Last year, they managed to capture the Copa del Rey, the Spanish football cup competition, after having won the Europa championship in the 2011-12 season. Diego Costa has been a big part of this success, but despite his recent injury, Costa should be fit to play the Champions League Final for Atletico Madrid.
However, they are facing current Copa del Rey holders Real Madrid, who are the most decorated team in La Liga and are chasing their 10th European Championship title. Real also boasts the world’s two most expensive footballers in Christiano Ronaldo and recent signing Gareth Bale, who came to the club from Tottenham after a record breaking £85.3 million transfer fee. Bale has endured his share of injuries this season, as has Ronaldo, who was also a question for the Champions League final this year following his injuries which caused him to miss the final two games of the Spanish season. However, Ronaldo is reported to be ready for the match tomorrow and is expected to start the game being played in Lisbon, where the Portuguese started his professional football career.
Real are not without their share of injury woes, however. French striker Karim Benzema is doubtful for the match while defender Pepe is also looking to sit out for the final. Manager Carlo Ancelotti claims that he has not yet made his final decision, but it appears likely the duo will miss out, and without Pepe in the line-up, Real may struggle against the explosive attack that has won Atletico their La Liga crown this year.
Atletico Madrid would not have had the success they have enjoyed were it not for talents of Diego Costa. After scoring 36 goals for the club, Costa has certainly been key to Atletico’s success, so his recent injury was an unsettling affair for fans hoping to wear both La Liga and European crowns. However, Costa had his thigh injury treated in Belgrade, where doctors injected him with a fluid made from horse placenta in an attempt to heal the damaged tissue in his right leg. This therapy has reportedly worked, as Costa has travelled with the team to Lisbon where he has been in training and is now set to take his place in the starting 11.
Real have won the balance of this season’s matches against cross-town rivals Atletico, but with significant injury concerns, this is the perfect opportunity for Simeone’s club to even the score. With the local derby being played on Europe’s biggest stage and Real’s ongoing injury concerns, Atletico Madrid will rightly believe that, with Diego Costa fit for the Champions League Final, they have the opportunity for the perfect finish to this year’s historic campaign.
Commentary by Bryan A. Jones