Class V Courage
It may be a bridge too far for Simeone's gladiators to stop Ancelotti's arsenal
REAL MADRID v
(Tomorrow, 2.40am, SingTel mio TV Ch 111)
If Atletico Madrid win the Champions League in Lisbon tomorrow morning (Singapore time), it will be the ultimate Cinderella story.
Diego Simeone's side, assembled at a fraction of the cost of their city rivals, have already won La Liga.
Can they secure an incredible Double as well?
I would love to see it happen, but here are five reasons why it could be Real Madrid's day.
As the final approaches, neither club are giving anything away about the status of their key players.
Cristiano Ronaldo has a problem and is a doubt, while Arda Turan and, more pertinently, Diego Costa, are still recovering from injuries sustained against Barcelona last weekend.
Real certainly won't want to be without Ronaldo but, if he is to miss out, at least they have the likes of Angel di Maria, transformed this season, and Gareth Bale, steadily finding his feet at this level.
Atletico simply don't have that strength in depth.
They could perhaps ride out the loss of Turan but, if Costa can't recover in time, they will be a markedly diminished force.
How much longer can Atletico keep this up? Physically and mentally, they must be shattered.
The form book certainly suggests as much.
They have won only two of their last six games in all competitions, drawing three and losing once to lowly Levante.
Atletico's game is built on high energy pressing, defensive discipline, unshakeable focus and courage.
They have performed miracles this season in breaking the dominance of Real and Barcelona.
But can they really go out and do it all over again?
The players are tired, the squad are relatively small and the scrutiny has never been more intense.
To go out and beat their local rivals in front of the world after all that they have been through is a huge ask.
Real Madrid's English assistant coach Paul Clement looked nervous this week at the prospect of his first Champions League final.
Carlo Ancelotti didn't share his trepidation. "This is my seventh!" he beamed.
And there it is. Ancelotti is the man who has done everything.
You can try and argue the line that he's in fear of losing his job, but this is a man who worked under Silvio Berlusconi at AC Milan and Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. He fears nothing.
This is a man who, after Istanbul in 2005, has already experienced the worst-case scenario.
This isn't to say that Simeone will be a bag of nerves, of course.
But, if anyone is hoping that Real's coach might be under pressure, they're very much mistaken.
Atletico Madrid have never won the Champions League.
The closest they came was in 1974 when they took Bayern Munich to a replay in Belgium and then lost 0-4 two days later.
In recent years, they have performed well in the Europa League, but that's very different competition.
Despite boasting an excellent pedigree, with repeated domestic success through the 1960s and 1970s, they are very much the poorer siblings in Madrid.
Real, by contrast, have won this competition nine times, finishing as runners-up on three occasions. They have also claimed 32 league championships.
Yes, there is likely to be a little nervousness at the prospect of ending their European Cup drought, but Real Madrid are a huge club.
This is their arena.
5 GARETH BALE
Atletico are an excellent side, well drilled and disciplined, but they don't have anyone like Gareth Bale.
Regardless of Ronaldo's fitness, Bale is the kind of player who can change any game through brute force and raw pace.
As he showed in the Copa del Rey, it doesn't matter how late in the game it is, Bale has the ability to open up the throttle and tear past opposition players as if they're not even there.
It's astonishing to recall that up until very recently, Bale wasn't entirely trusted by the Real fans.
Tomorrow, he may have the opportunity to win them over once and for all.
This is the kind of game for which he left Tottenham. This is the kind of game he can turn in an instant.
Ron dreaming of the 'Decima'
Carlo Ancelotti will attempt to succeed where the likes of Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello and Manuel Pellegrini failed by finally ending Real Madrid's wait for a 10th European Cup title when they take on arch-rivals Atletico Madrid in Lisbon tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Ancelotti is Real's 11th coach since they last conquered Europe back in 2002 under Vicente del Bosque and the club's quest for "La Decima" (the 10th) has increasingly turned into an obsession for the big-spending Spanish giants.
Ancelotti has already done better than some of the biggest names in the game by getting Real back into the final - the first time they have graced the showpiece since Zinedine Zidane's famous volley saw them beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden 12 years ago - but the Italian knows that is only part of the battle, with all Madridistas now desperate for Real to get their hands on the trophy again.
Real's Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, whose 16 goals in this season's competition are a record, said on www.uefa.com: "It is a moment that all Madridistas are dreaming about - the 'decima'.
"It is a trophy we have been looking to win for many years. Real Madrid have wanted it for a long time.
"Since the first day we came here, we've felt that positive pressure to win the Champions League. We feel like we are now one small step away from winning."
Long-serving defender Sergio Ramos, who has won pretty much every other honour in the game but is playing in his first Champions League final, added on the Bwin website: "It's a unique experience. It's a reward for all the sacrifice and hard work over so many years.
"Although we look at it from the perspective of the group, this is the pay-off for the work the team have put in throughout the last few years, during which time we hadn't been fortunate enough to reach the final. At last the time has come to experience this amazing moment."
Standing in Real's way at the Estadio da Luz are familiar foes, with Atletico looking to seal what would be their greatest-ever season by lifting the trophy for the first time.
Atletico have already caused a major upset this year by beating Real and Barcelona to the La Liga title - their first since 1996 - and now they have a chance of adding the Champions League crown in what will be the first European Cup final between two teams from the same city.
Diego Simeone, who has won the league, Copa del Rey and Europa League in just three seasons as Atletico coach, said: "It's the fruit of the labour that we've been doing for nearly three years.
"We responded well in the Europa League a year and a half ago, if I remember rightly. We still have the same humility, the same group ethic."
- PA Sport.
It’s a historic rivalry. It’s great, both in terms of the matches themselves and the fact that in one city you have such a powerful team as Real Madrid and a battling team such as Atletico Madrid.
- Diego Simeone (above) on the Madrid rivalry