Atletico-Madrid rivalry heats up ahead of semifinal

REUTERS  Juan Medina Ronaldo in a match against Levante in Madrid last October
REUTERS Juan Medina Ronaldo in a match against Levante in Madrid last October
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11 May, 2017

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos talked to media on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the Champions League semi-final second leg against Atletico Madrid.

At the time, Atletico was already touted as the third force in Spanish soccer under coach Diego Simeone, and three of the goals scored on that cold day in the Spanish capital came from players still on the team - Tiago Cardoso, Saul Niguez and Antoine Griezmann.

Zidane added: "The injustice would be to not do our best to get to where we are. We'll continue with our same sacrifice, humility and will fight out on the pitch".

"I tried not to think about the importance of match I was playing in", he said.

A match more than two years ago is keeping Atletico Madrid hopeful of a comeback against Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.

Marshalled by veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus have conceded just two goals in the Champions League this season and offered Monaco's free-scoring attack hardly a sniff last week.

The Atletico Madrid youngster had been heavily linked with a transfer to Liverpool with reports in Spain claiming the Reds had approached the left-back.

For Real Madrid, all eyes will be on Ronaldo, the only scorer in the first leg.

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Both clubs have a reputation of producing competitive games, and one thing is for sure: regardless of the deficit facing the home team, the Jamaican group is in for a treat of a local derby at the over 54,000 capacity Vicente Calderon Stadium. "We know how to beat them and we'll try to do everything possible to do so".

Last week's chastening 3-0 defeat at the Bernabeu left Atletico needing a repeat of their sensational 4-0 win over their fierce local rivals in La Liga in 2015 to prevent a fourth straight European defeat by Real side who have not lost by more than one goal this campaign.

First leg score: Real Madrid 3 - Atletico Madrid 0.

"We are all rowing in the same direction, the fans too".

"[Neymar] is my idol and I admire him a lot", the current Flamengo player said. It's the business end of the season where everything is up from grabs, and this club loves to be in these situations.

"I have known them for the last five-and-a-half years and I have no doubt that tomorrow they will make a great game".

Gareth Bale remains sidelined with a calf injury, while Atletico's injury crisis at right-back is expected to be resolved by the return of Juanfran after three weeks out.


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