For the second consecutive year, two teams from the same domestic division will duke it out for the honour of winning the Champions League.
And this time, in an unprecedented development, we already know ahead of the 2014 final in Lisbon which city will receive the trophy: Madrid.
Fierce local rivals Real and Atletico will go head-to-head one more time this season on May 24 in a perfectly-set battle pitting the decorated Galacticos, seeking their 10th European Cup victory, against the season's big success story of Diego Simeone and his troops, who hope to break the Spanish dominance of the Clasico duopoly by winning both league and continental silverware.
But are Atleti too big an underdog on this, the grandest stage? As with every Friday, we run across the team to see who has the backing of the Eurosport gang when it comes to this week's hot topic.
Once you're done agreeing with/disagreeing with/laughing at our take on the big one, why not stick your own predictions on at the end via the comments section?
Real Madrid have the better individuals, Atletico Madrid the better team. A close contest awaits, but if an edge can be found surely it comes in the form of Cristiano Ronaldo. Like other great players before him - Maradona, Pele - and his nemesis Lionel Messi, the Real forward has a firm grasp of his own destiny and an insatiable desire to forge his place in football's history. Already having scored a record number of goals in the Champions League this season, he will surely score in the final too. In his home country, with a 10th European Cup within reach for Real, the grandest of stages is set. He will not disappoint.
Dan Quarrell (Twitter: @Dan_Eurosport) - Real Madrid
As with Borussia Dortmund last season, it is ever so tempting to back Atletico as a neutral. However, this huge stage demands the very best that Cristiano Ronaldo has to offer and he will grasp the opportunity to sparkle. Diego Simeone’s side have been spectacular to watch at times - but while they have already peaked as a collective unit, Real have another gear still with which to accelerate. While Atletico boast a core of wonderfully gifted and mature players, Real have incomparable class in the final third of the field which will represent the cutting edge in what will likely be a tense and intriguing encounter. For all Simeone’s fabulously wild gesticulating on the touchline, it will be the understated guile and experience of Carlo Ancelotti that will give Real the composure they require in finally ending their Champions League drought.
Liam Happe (Twitter: @liamhappe) - Atletico Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo in Lisbon, the long wait for a 10th European title and the deadly threat of the 'BBC' all make it seem unlikely Atletico's brilliant run to the Champions League final will go all the way on May 24. But we just cannot rule out the incredible incentive the underdogs now have on the big stage: denying their smug local rivals a piece of history whilst rewriting their own will be a huge driving force on top of the prospect of such an amazing achievement in itself, and we already know Diego Simeone's men are more than capable of knocking off top clubs in big matches. Believe.
Marcus Foley (Twitter: @mmjfoley) - Atletico Madrid
It was the purveyor of Galacticos, Florentino Perez, who coined the phrase La Decima back in 2002. It is ironic then that the absence of a non-Galactico, Xabi Alonso, has swung the pendulum back in Atletico’s favour. Madrid are a side of supreme individual talents sewn into a team by the irreplaceable nous of Xabi Alonso. Without him Atletico just have the advantage. Don’t take my word for it though; take the word of the very much in-vogue Diego Simeone from back in March: “It was not a coincidence the return of Xabi Alonso meant Madrid found the famous ‘balance’ their coach was looking for. But the balance is Xabi Alonso, not the others." Of course, a piece of supreme individual brilliance could claim La Decima but the ethos of team should prevail come May 24th.
Seán Fay (Twitter: @Sean_Fay) - Real Madrid
I'm really reluctant to go against Diego Simeone's men who have played way above expectations all season but I have to go for Real Madrid and for one reason only: Cristiano Ronaldo. In such tight contests the tie-breaker for me is who has the best player on the pitch and in Ronaldo, Real have a player who is on a different galaxy to anything Atletico can offer. Simply put, if he is on top form, it is hard to see Real being stopped. He froze in Lisbon in 2004 in the European Championship final but he was a young pup then. Now, in front of his compatriots at the same venue he can cast aside those demons and lead Real to their 10th European Cup. If this happens, then hopefully Atletico will go into the game as Liga champions, as Simeone's side certainly don't deserve to end the season empty handed.
Alex Chick (Twitter: @alex_eurosport) - We’ll know by May 18
The climax of the 2013/14 season comes down to just how big the cojones of Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid players are. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to Atleti, perennial masters of the hard luck story. Two wins in three games will secure the Liga title; six days later on the 24th they can complete an astonishing double. Will they revert to type and buckle under the pressure, or is their momentum under the inspirational Simeone simply unstoppable? If Atletico hold on domestically, they will travel to Lisbon as the team of destiny and sweep Real Madrid aside. If they choke away the league? It’s inconceivable that they will pick themselves up in time for the European final.
Toby Keel (Too 'cool' for Twitter) - Who knows? And, really, who cares?
Never has a Champions League final been a tougher match to call. I can't remember the last time two teams got to the final who seem so evenly matched: Atletico have had four points off Real in the league this season (including a win at the Bernabeu), but Real earned bragging rights against their local rivals in the Copa del Rey semi-finals a few weeks ago. Then again, that was merely revenge for Atletico's victory in the 2013 Copa, which was the last time the sides met in a big final. On top of that, there are sentimental reasons for neutrals to fancy a win for both sides: Atletico for their brilliance in humbling Spain's big two, Real for their intoxicating display in humbling Europe's big one (i.e. Bayern Munich) and the fact that they seem worthy of claiming a 10th European crown at last. The good news for the millions watching is that whoever wins, it's almost certain to be a fantastic spectacle. So really, unless you're a fan of either Atletico or Real, or an inveterate gambler looking to make a few quid on the match, does it matter? Sit back and enjoy.
Real Madrid - 3
Atletico Madrid - 2
Lousy cliché cop-out answers - 2
- Sports & Recreation
- Champions League
- Diego Simeone
- Real Madrid
- Atletico Madrid
- Cristiano Ronaldo
- Xabi Alonso