Newly crowned La Liga champions Atletico Madrid will face bitter rivals Real Madrid this Saturday in the first Champions League final ever to be contested between two clubs from the same city.
Diego Simeone's men are chasing a third major European title in four years after winning the Europa League in 2010 and 2012, while Los Merengues are attempting to win back the trophy they last claimed in 2002.
To do that, however, Carlo Ancelotti's men will have to make their way past European football's flavour of the month (or year), bringing with them all the momentum of a campaign that has finally realised Atleti's return to dominance.
Date: Saturday, May 24
Time: 7.45 p.m. BST/2.45 p.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (UK), Fox (US)
It's been the story of Spanish football this season and a bandwagon so difficult not to hop aboard, but Atleti can this week win not just the first Champions League or European Cup in their history but phenomenally round off a domestic double.
Simeone has taken no time in fashioning his outfit into a team that genuinely looks capable of such a feat, pushing the club past that threshold of success they've wavered so painfully over for many years.
As OptaJoe illustrates, recent finals between these two sides might even justify Atletico being painted as favourites this weekend:
However, in reality, Simeone and his merry band of men remain underdogs to prevail at the Estadio da Luz, a detail that Sky Sports' Daniel Storey sees as quite baffling given recent context in the fixture and the club's almighty rise this season:
Ancelotti's line-up, packed to its fringes with expensive purchases and star talent, may have more experience when it comes to competing on stages such as this, but there is evidence to suggest that it could be two trophies for Los Rojiblancos in the space of a week.
In the wake of Atletico Madrid's weekend triumph, Real Madrid have received a boost of their own ahead of Saturday's clash, according to Pablo Polo of Spanish newspaper Marca, who says that "barring any setbacks," Pepe should be fit for the encounter.
The setback that Cristiano Ronaldo suffered during the warm-up ahead of Saturday's 3-1 win over Espanyol isn't expected to worry the forward much, either, but Karim Benzema's fitness is a more worrying concern. The French international has a strain in his groin, which could lead Ancelotti to question whether he's worth the risk.
ESPN FC's Dermot Corrigan cites Spanish outlet AS in an update for those players missing from a Monday morning training session:
Xabi Alonso will be a big miss for Los Blancos in central midfield, but as ESPN FC states, the recent return to fitness of Sami Khedira may be enough to ease Real's woes:
Some key absences also threaten to rock the boat for Atletico, with UEFA.com reporting that the injuries suffered by Diego Costa and Arda Turan during Saturday's 1-1 draw at Barcelona could keep them from the tie:
Both players are crucial components in the make-up of Simeone's squad when at their finest, and it would be a shame for the matchup to be missing any players, let alone those who promise to make it shine in as entertaining a fashion as possible.
The story of Atletico's season has been built on successful defence more than anything else. It is the one dimension of their squad that sets them apart from their La Liga peers, conceding just 26 league goals all season.
However, as the campaign has worn on and legs have grown increasingly weary, there are some holes that have begun to expose themselves and after conceding just one in nine La Liga fixtures, the club has now failed to keep a clean sheet in its last four outings across all competitions.
Should holes continue to present themselves, one can count on Real being all too efficient and cutthroat in their manner to do anything but punish the mistake, something Bayern Munich found out all too well in the second leg of their semi-final encounter.
It's natural, on occasions such as this, to hope for an end-to-end thriller; goal after goal to go hand-in-hand with the attacking brilliance all neutrals hope to see. However, much like Atletico's encounter with Barcelona on Saturday, a much tenser affair awaits.
Atleti won't be able to do as they did at the Bernabeu in September and take a clean sheet victory from Real. However, that doesn't mean the underdogs can't ultimately weather the storm and do what would have seemed impossible nine months ago.
Prediction: Real Madrid 1-2 Atletico Madrid AET
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