Longer prep to help Atletico Madrid avenge Champions League loss

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The history books say Real Madrid beat their city rivals Ateltico 4-1 in the 2014 Champions League final. In simple terms, that appears to be a veritable shellacking in one of the biggest club games in the world.

Of course the harsh truths of a score line don’t always tell the full story.

There is no room to mention, for instance, that Diego Simeone’s men were mere seconds from victory when Sergio Ramos equalised and changed the game forever. Nor is there any space for context over the two sides’ preparation.

Two years ago, Atleti arrived in Lisbon having just sealed the La Liga title at Barcelona. After the highs of that exhilaration, the exhaustion of a bus parade and the celebrations that go with it, there was little time to plan for Los Blancos.

With the rematch under a week away, things are different.

Los Colchoneros have had a fortnight to train for this encounter, which is an extremely large feather in their cap ahead of the Milan final.

Meticulous over their defensive organisation, the side have been able to run through drill after drill to work on nullifying Zinedine Zidane’s side.

They have 34 clean sheets to their name during a campaign in which they’ve often played twice a week. It’s very difficult to imagine them not claiming another for their collection after so long to prepare.

Not only will the time off allow Simeone’s men to strengthen at the back, but they’ll arrive at the San Siro much fitter too. It’s something the players have openly acknowledged in the buildup.

“We’ve had more time. It’s not an excuse but we had played a ‘final’ against Barcelona and physically and mentally that’s tiring,” Koke said.

“We’re better physically,” Diego Godin added.

Two years ago, the Uruguyan was denied a famous Champions League-winning goal. There’s plenty of reasons to believe this well-drilled Atleti side won’t let that happen again this time around.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.