Champions League: Real Madrid and Atletico kick off finals rematch | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 01.05.2017
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Champions League: Real Madrid and Atletico kick off finals rematch

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid faced off in the Champions League each of the previous three seasons - twice in the final - and the Galacticos triumphed every time. Will this semifinal be any different?

Though their city rivals have caught up to them in recent years, Real Madrid have maintained their dominance over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. They prevailed over their neighbors in the 2014 and 2016 finals and eliminated them from the quarterfinals the year in between.

But despite their recent success, Real Madrid are not taking Atletico for granted when the two meet in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

Fußball Champions League Finale Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid Zidane (Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach)

Zinedine Zidane led Real to the 2016 Champions League title

"It means nothing that we've beaten them in this competition," Real Madrid coach Zinadine Zidane told reporters on Monday.

"I'm not thinking about Cardiff (the venue for the final) either. We have to win tomorrow's game. We have prepared well and we are ready."

Seemingly unbeatable at one point this season - they went 40 games unbeaten in all competitions - Real Madrid have started to slip in recent weeks. After losing the "Clasico" to perennial rivals Barcelona, they are currently tied with the Catalan club on points atop the Spanish first division, but Barcelona are ahead on goal difference. It has also been a month since Real Madrid have kept a clean sheet.

However, their handling of Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals showed they are still a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League. They managed to score six goals against the German Champions, five of which came from reigning FIFA Men's best player award winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

Read: Ronaldo sets new milestone as luckless Bayern Munich go out

Banged-up Atletico 'will find the solutions'

Atletico's hopes of finally defeating Real Madrid in the Champions League have already gotten a little dimmer. Star defenders Jose Gimenez and Juanfran  will both be unavailable for selection.

Fußball Champions League Finale Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid Elfmeterschießen (Reuters/K. Pfaffenbach)

Atletico players are used to losing to Real in the Champions League

"We will find the solutions for the game on Tuesday," coach Diego Simeone said.

They are in third place in the Spanish league behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, but Atletico Madrid have conceded the fewest number of goals in the division - although Real did score three when the two met in the Vicente Calderon (Atletico's home stadium) last November.

"They always give us a hard game. The strength they have is that they never give up, no matter what happens. They fight, battle they know their strengths and use them as best they can," said Atletico forward Kevin Gameiro of Tuesday night's opponents.

Read: Last-gasp Messi seals memorable 'Clasico' win for Barcelona

A tight matchup

Both of the finals these two Madrid-based teams played in recent years needed extra time to decide the winner.

Gareth Bale - who is unavailable in the first leg due to a calf injury - scored the decisive goal for Real Madrid in extra time in 2014. The Galacticos ony prevailed in 2016 when Juanfran missed the decisive spot kick in the penalty shootout.

"It was the most stressful moment in my entire career," Real Madrid midfielder Isco said of the penalty shootout. "They'll be desperate to beat us after the two Champions Leagues that we've won."