Two years ago, Atletico Madrid were seconds away from winning their first ever Champions League title. And then, Sergio Ramos powered a header home, and the rest, as they day, is history, as Real Madrid went on to overpower their crosstown rivals in extra time to complete that long-awaited "La Decima." Here we are again, in another Champions League final, with two of Madrid's best battling it out to be called the best in Europe.
No matter what the manager Diego Simeone or the Atletico Madrid players say, that defeat to Real Madrid, so agonising, when a victory was so close, will still hurt, and the only way to heal that particular wound, apart from the slow process of time, of course, is by beating Real in Milan on Saturday.
"There is no such thing as revenge in football, or in life for that matter, just new opportunities," Simeone told UEFA's official website. 'Revenge' is a negative word, because it harks back to a defeat. On the other hand, 'opportunity' is about optimism, confidence and what's to come, and that's what we want to show in the Champions League."
Atletico Madrid have beaten two of the toughest teams in the competition â€“ Barcelona in the quarterfinals and Bayern Munich in the semis â€“ to get to this final, so to say that they have earned their place in this mammoth clash will be a major understatement. There is something about this Atletico Madrid side, despite their style of play not exactly being the most pleasing to the eye, that makes them exciting, the team that you want to pull for.
Maybe it is their underdog status, even with two finals in three seasons, or maybe it is just the fact that they always seem to relish punching above their weight and that too on the biggest of occasions. There is no bigger occasion in European club football than the Champions League final, and no bigger rival for Atletico than their fellow Madrid team Real.
"I think talk is cheap, when I hear people say what they'd like to happen, I think it's empty," Simeone added. "You have to live in the present. Of course, we'll prepare ourselves to win. It won't come down to what I want, it'll come down to how much effort we put in."
A lot of that effort will need to be concentrated on stopping Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 15 times in 24 matches against Atletico Madrid. However, Ronaldo has not struck this season against Atletico, who beat them 1-0 at the Bernabeu while holding Real to a 1-1 draw at the Vicente Calderon in the two La Liga matches of the campaign.
This Real Madrid side are a different beast altogether at the moment, with confidence quite high, even after narrowly missing out on the La Liga title to Barcelona. The key for Real will be keeping their defence tight, much like they did in the semifinals against Manchester City, but with Antoine Griezmann in the form that he is in, it will be easier said than done.
UEFA Champions League final schedule: Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid.
Date: Saturday, May 28.
Time: 8.45 p.m. local time (12.15 a.m. IST, 8.45 p.m. CET, 7.45 p.m. BST, 2.45 p.m. ET).
Venue: San Siro in Milan.
TV listings: India: Ten 2, Ten 1 HD. UK: BT Sport Europe and BT Sport Ultra HD. Spain: TV3, Bein Sports, Antena 3. USA: Fox Sports and ESPN Deportes. Canada: TSN and Bein Sports. France, Monaco, Middle East, Thailand, North Africa and Australia: Bein Sports. South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport. Indonesia: Orange TV and Bein Sports. China: PPTV, CCTV, LeTV, QQ Sports. Singapore: Mio Sports and SuperSports. Malaysia: Astro SuperSport.