Champions League final: Atletico Madrid won’t dwell on past

Cristiano Ronaldo, pictured in a training session at San Siro, is expected to be fit for tonight's final. Picture: Getty
Cristiano Ronaldo, pictured in a training session at San Siro, is expected to be fit for tonight's final. Picture: Getty
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With the pain still fresh in their minds, Atletico Madrid have an added motivation for tonight’s Champions League final rematch against Real Madrid in Milan.

Atletico were on the verge of claiming Europe’s premier club competition in 2014 when Madrid equalised in stoppage time and went on to win 4-1.

“The past is not worth considering now,” Atletico captain Gabi said. “You can only judge us on what we do today.

“We have the talent to beat Madrid and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

“It was a cruel defeat,” Gabi said of the match two years ago. “We’re happy to have another chance.”

One Atletico player who has won the prestigious trophy is former Chelsea forward Fernando Torres, but he said it would be extra special to repeat that feat with his childhood club.

For Spain, Torres scored a goal in the final both times his country won the European Championship, in 2008 and 2012. He also won the World Cup.

“This is the most important game I will play ever,” Torres said. “I’m very happy to be playing with this club. I’ve been playing with them since I was five. I was very lucky to win the competition with Chelsea and so much with Spain, but this is something very special for me.”

Torres progressed through the ranks at Atletico before moving to Liverpool and then Chelsea. He had a disappointing four-month loan spell at AC Milan before returning to Atletico at the start of 2015.

The 32-year-old striker will be hoping to cap his rehabilitation with club football’s biggest prize.

“This means everything to me, everything you dream when you’re a kid,” Torres said. “I have the chance to make this dream come true. It’s just what I wanted when I was a kid. This is the game of my life without doubt.”

Real are bidding for an 11th European Cup, while it would be a first for Atletico, but coach Diego Simeone said he is ready. “I love to have 130 years of history on my back,” the Argentine said. “I love that. I love the pressure.”

Real go into the final in danger of finishing the season without any silverware. They were runners-up in La Liga to Barcelona and were kicked out of the Copa del Rey for fielding the ineligible Denis Cheryshev in their 3-1 win over Cadiz in December.

But Zinedine Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez as boss in January, insisted defeat tonight cannot be considered a failure after their work to reach San Siro.

“I don’t think it’ll be a failure if we lose, no-one can take away what we have done up to now,” he said. “Failure can come from a bad attitude and if we cannot replicate what we have done in the past that would be a failure, but it’s a game of football. You don’t know what could happen. All I can say is we are very ready for the game. I have worked hard with all the players and we deserve to be there. Atletico can say the same. We both deserved to get here.” 
Real have scored almost twice as many goals as Atletico in this season’s tournament, 
netting 27 times compared to Los Rojiblancos’ 16 and can also point to that 4-1 win in the 2014 showpiece.

Zidane, who said Cristiano Ronaldo is fully fit for the final after he was forced to leave a training session early on Tuesday, wants to repeat the result of two years ago but insisted, even if the squad is slightly different with Iker Casillas and Sami Khedira having left, they have maintained the same ethos.

He said: “Some players went but in this club the ideas are always the same. The idea for Real Madrid has always been to follow the great history of this club, to be united, work with colleagues, play well with quality and play well in every game.

“On Saturday what we want to do is to repeat that and give everything we can.”