Cristiano Ronaldo and his fitness is a slight worry for Zinedine Zidane as the Madrid derby takes centre-stage, yet again, for the UEFA Champions League final. Real Madrid will look for an 11th European Cup title and Atletico Madrid their first when the two local rivals meet in Europe's biggest match at the San Siro in Milan on Saturday.
Ronaldo picked up a slight problem during training earlier this week, and while the Portuguese himself was quick to bat away concerns over his fitness, that problem has remained. While Ronaldo is expected to start the match – there is no way anyone could have kept a motivated player like him out of a Champions League final – Zidane admitted his superstar striker is still in a "bit of pain."
"Ronaldo has been feeling a bit of pain, but he's OK," Zidane told UEFA's official website when asked about his chief goalscorer's fitness. "He'll be there 100%. He has a little niggle, but that disappears when you're going to play in a Champions League final."
Ronaldo, who will look to form a potent partnership again with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale up front, was very much involved when Real Madrid completed their much-awaited "La Decima" by beating Atletico Madrid in extra time in the Champions League final two years ago, and the Spanish side will hope for a repeat of that effort, but, perhaps, with less drama.
Atletico will look to gain a measure of revenge, having seen their first ever Champions League title dreams snatched away from them at the very last second. Diego Simeone has shown, yet again, what a wonderful manager he is, masterminding wins over both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively, to take his team to a second European final in three seasons.
Now, with a full squad available – Atletico do not have any major injury problems coming into this Champions League final – Simeone will hope his team can show their defensive nous until the final whistle, while scoring one or two at the other end, probably via Antoine Griezmann or Fernando Torres.
Not there to stop those runs being made by a Griezmann or a Torres is Raphael Varane, who has been ruled out of the final with a hamstring injury. With Zidane preferring Sergio Ramos and Pepe at the back in the recent past, the Frenchman's absence might not be felt that much, but, nevertheless, Zidane would have liked to go into this final without any injury concerns, much like Atletico Madrid.
Expected starting XI: Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Atletico Madrid: Jan Oblak; Juanfran, Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez, Filipe Luis; Saul Niguez, Gabi, Augusto Fernandez, Koke; Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres.