Champions League Final 2014: TV Schedule, Live Stream and Players to Watch

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Champions League Final 2014: TV Schedule, Live Stream and Players to Watch
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

An entire season full of play will come down to one match to decide which club is the best in Europe.

Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will each try to build on an already-impressive season to take home arguably the most prestigious trophy in club football.

Atletico Madrid surprised many with their early success in both La Liga and Champions League, but the wins kept coming. They dominated the group stage before beating AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea to get into the finals. Meanwhile, they finished on top of La Liga to win their first league title since 1996.

Real Madrid are much more used to this level of competition, but the path was still a difficult one. After winning their group, they needed to defeat three German clubs in Schalke 04, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to reach the final.

While the club earned a Copa del Rey title this year, a UCL championship would truly make it a great season. 

In order to make sure you do not miss any of the action, here is everything you need to know heading into the highly anticipated battle.

 

Who will win?

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When: Saturday, May 24

Where: Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon, Portugal

Time (U.S.): 2:45 p.m. ET

Watch (U.S.): Fox, Fox Deportes

Live Stream (U.S.): Fox Soccer 2 Go

Time (U.K.): 7:45 p.m. BST

Watch (U.K.): Sky Sports 1

Odds (via OddsShark.com): Atletico Madrid (+300), Real Madrid (-110)

 

Players to Watch

Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid

There are serious doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness after the star player has missed time with a hamstring injury. He last played on May 7 when he spent nine minutes on the pitch against Real Valladolid before coming out.

The good news is manager Carlo Ancelotti is not concerned:

This is big for Real Madrid because Ronaldo has been simply exceptional when healthy this year. The 2013 Ballon d'Or winner is always a threat to either score himself or create opportunities for others, and Atletico Madrid will struggle to keep him in check.

With the Portuguese crowd likely to back the homegrown talent, you should expect a big game out of the player looking to bring home his second career Champions League title.

 

Gareth Bale, Real Madrid

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Defending Ronaldo would be a difficult task on its own, but it is even harder when Gareth Bale is across the pitch and capable of providing the same type of spark.

This is exactly what Real Madrid were hoping to obtain when they brought Bale in for £85.3 million last summer. He already played a key moment in one championship this year, scoring the game-winner against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey while using his incredible pace:

The question is if he can come through again to help the club win "La Decima." Andy West of BBC Sport breaks down how important this title has become for Real Madrid:

The only thing that counts is whether Ancelotti can finally end his club's long wait for their 10th European crown; if he doesn't, his work over the course of the campaign will be forgotten and his job, seemingly so secure less than a month ago, will come under threat.

This drastic, disproportionate state of affairs derives from Real Madrid's utter obsession with success on the European stage.

Bale will certainly do his best to help the club, but he will be part of the disappointment if he fails.

 

Gabi, Atletico Madrid

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Unlike Real Madrid or Barcelona, Atletico Madrid do not have big-named players patrolling the midfield. However, this does not mean there is a lack of talent.

Gabi quietly had an incredible season as captain of the La Liga champs, totaling three goals and eight assists in 35 appearance for the club. He is not someone who is going to make too many dazzling plays, but he knows how to control the ball and get it to the scorers up front.

The midfielder's experience and ability to control the ball was a big reason Atleti had one of the top defenses in the world, allowing only 26 goals in La Liga.

According to Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC, Gabi is also prepared for the upcoming pressure in the next match:

He will certainly do his best to ensure that his side can end the year on top.

 

David Villa, Atletico Madrid

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

While Atletico Madrid were celebrating the league title with a draw against Barcelona on the final day of the league season, they also had to deal with the devastating news of a hamstring injury to star forward Diego Costa.

According to Sky Sports, Costa has been training leading up to the big match, but even if he plays it is clear that he will not be 100 percent. This is a big deal considering the forward led the club with 27 league goals this season.

Whether he plays or not, David Villa has to step up as the only other player on the roster with double-digit goals in La Liga. The veteran might not have as much speed as he used to, but he knows how to be in the right spot and finish when he gets the opportunity.

Against Real Madrid, he will have to be a leader and come through with some big plays on the attack. Otherwise, the underdogs might not have the ability to score enough to earn a win in this battle.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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