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Football: Five key Champions League final clashes

Real Madrid face local rivals Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final for the second time in three years at Milan’s San Siro on Saturday.

Atletico are aiming to win the competition for the first time after losing out 4-1 to Real after extra-time in the final in Lisbon two years ago.

By contrast, Real are already the most successful side in Champions League history as 10-time winners.

Here, We sports look at five key clashes that could decide the outcome.

– Cristiano Ronaldo v Juanfran

Three-time World Player of the Year Ronaldo is looking to match his own record of 17 goals in a single Champions League season, which he set with Real’s fourth from the penalty spot in the final two years ago before famously tearing off his shirt to show off his toned torso.

Atletico right-back Juanfran’s understated nature couldn’t be more different. However, his consistently solid defensive displays have seen the former Real player seal his place in Spain’s Euro 2016 squad and keep Ronaldo quiet in recent Madrid derbies.

The Portuguese has scored just twice as Real have won just one of the last 10 matches between the sides.

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– Sergio Ramos v Antoine Griezmann

Ramos broke Atletico hearts two years ago as it was his stoppage time header that sent the game into extra-time, with Los Rojiblancos just seconds away from victory.

Real’s captain has had a poor season by his standards as he has often been bothered by a shoulder injury, but has returned to form in a 10-game unbeaten run since early April.

Griezmann is Atletico’s major goal threat. The Frenchman has scored 32 times this season, including a double to knock out holders Barcelona in the quarter-finals and the all-important away goal that sealed Atletico’s place in the final against Bayern Munich in the semis.

Moreover, Griezmann also scored the winner the last time these two sides met in February.

– Luka Modric v Koke

The stars at both ends of the field will be dependant on midfield maestros Modric and Koke to provide them with the service necessary to make the difference.

Modric’s ability to control the game with his range of passing has made him arguably Real’s most consistent performer this season.

Koke’s phenomenal work rate has seen him run more per match than any other player in the Champions League this season at well over 12km (7.5 miles) per game. However, the Spanish international also adds a touch of class to Atletico’s midfield and has 17 assists this season.

– Karim Benzema v Diego Godin

The secret to Atletico’s success in Diego Simeone’s five seasons in charge has been a rock-solid defence led by Uruguayan warrior Godin.

Thanks to Godin’s discipline and organisation, Atletico have already kept 35 clean sheets this season, including eight in their 12 Champions League games and five in their last nine outings against Real.

Benzema had his best ever goalscoring season in La Liga with 24 in 27 games, but is still to register for Real in a final and has scored just three times in 22 appearances against Atletico.

– Gareth Bale v Filipe Luis

Bale is in the best form of his Real career three years after joining for a world record fee and has been the man for the big occasion since moving to the Spanish capital, scoring against Atletico in the final two years ago and in the 2014 Copa del Rey and Club World Cup finals.

However, that is Bale’s only goal against Atletico and his glory moment in Lisbon only came after Luis went off injured. The Brazilian briefly left Atletico after Lisbon for Chelsea only to rejoin at the start of this season and has kept Bale in check whenever he has been faced by the Welshman.


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