Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid: Key Battles to Watch in Copa Del Rey Final
Recent history hasn't been kind to Atletico Madrid when it comes to El Derbi Madrileño.
Every time they face their more illustrious rivals, they have to endure the same old story: no win against Real Madrid since 1999—14 years ago.
Fortunately, they can take some pride in their meetings against Los Blancos in Copa del Rey finals.
Four times they've met at this stage, and three times Atleti have won.
It's been some time though, as their most recent final meeting was in 1992. However, the 2-0 Atletico win took place at the Bernabeu—the same venue as this Friday's match.
Here are some of the key battles to look out for when the two sides get the 113th King's Cup final under way.
Diego Simeone vs. Jose Mourinho
Both clubs are shaped in the image of their coaches, and on Friday night the match will be won just as much off the pitch as it will on it.
Diego Simeone, approaching the end of his second year at Vicente Calderon, has yet to beat either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
The two most recent home matches against the two presented great chances to do so as well. Each match ended as a 2-1 loss, with the deciding factor being an Atletico own goal.
For Jose Mourinho, it looks set to be three years and out in the Spanish capital. Will he sign off with a Copa del Rey victory?
His 72.6 percent win rate and the fact he's never lost to Los Rojiblancos suggests so, but let's see if El Cholo's got anything up his sleeve.
Radamel Falcao vs. Cristiano Ronaldo
Though it's unlikely they'll confront one another too often on the pitch, these two players are never far from the score sheet and are thus the likely candidates to settle the Copa del Rey final.
In the white corner is 28-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward has scored 34 La Liga goals this season—35.4 percent of Madrid's goals (96)—and a further six in six appearances in the Copa del Rey.
In the other corner is 27-year-old Radamel Falcao.
The Colombian forward has managed 28 goals in the league so far this year—contributing 45.2 percent of his team's total (62)—and has added two more in three cup matches.
Which one is most likely to provide the match winner on Friday night?
Angel Di Maria vs. Filipe Luis
Angel Di Maria has enjoyed a hot-and-cold season. However, there's no escaping the fact that when he's hot, he's boiling.
Atletico will remember only too well one of his better performances, when he was the key ingredient as Madrid came from behind to win 2-1 on April 27.
On Friday, being hot won't guarantee anything, though.
That's because he's likely to be up against the Brazilian full-back Filipe Luis, one of La Liga's best left-backs this season.
Rested for the defeat to Barcelona last weekend, the 27-year-old should be fresh ahead of the challenge of dealing with the Argentinian winger.
It promises to be a fascinating element of the final.
Arda Turan vs. Michael Essien
Prior to his recent injury, Turkish international Arda Turan had been one of Atletico Madrid's unsung heroes.
He has played all across the attacking triumvirate when Atleti have favored 4-2-3-1, and on the right and the left when they have shaped up 4-4-2.
It's likely he'll start on the left, having returned to action recently, on Friday. He will look to exploit whoever starts as Madrid's right-back.
Michael Essien finished the Espanyol game in that position.
Alvaro Arbeloa has remained sidelined, Nacho Fernandez has switched between left and right, and though Raphael Varane started there at Espanyol, he left in the first half due to injury.
Turan, 26, will be keen to take advantage of a position which could appears to be Madrid's weak spot. And if Atleti win, he said he'll chop his locks off!
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