Atletico Madrid v Real Madrid preview: Atleti need historic result in Champions League semi-final
Last Updated: 10/05/17 6:43pm
Atletico Madrid will need to make history in the Champions League semi-finals as they look to overturn a 3-0 deficit against Real Madrid on Wednesday evening.
No team has ever overturned a 3-0 first-leg away defeat in the Champions League knockout stages in five previous attempts, although Barcelona did manage the biggest ever comeback this season by eliminating PSG 6-5 on aggregate after a 4-0 first-leg defeat.
The Madrid derby will also have added emotion for the home side as they play their last-ever European match at the Vicente Calderon before moving to the state-of-the-art Wanda Metropolitano next term.
Real Madrid will be aiming for their 15th appearance in a European Cup or Champions League final after Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick last Tuesday saw them take control of the semi-final tie.
Manager Zinedine Zidane has urged his players to maintain their focus to seal Real's spot in the Cardiff final against Juventus on June 3, and says they will not be changing their style heading into the game.
"Our idea doesn't change and our way of playing is always to give our best. The message to the players is to continue on the path that we are on and give everything out on the field. We are not going to change the way we play," he told a pre-match press conference.
Some good news for Atletico is the potential return of Juanfran and Jose Gimenez, who have made a return to training.
Real Madrid defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane have both returned to training, but it remains to be seen whether they will feature although Dani Carvajal and Gareth Bale remain sidelined.
Zidane is expected to recall his key men having made sweeping changes against Granada, switching nine players for the La Liga trip, with the likes of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric among the players likely to come back in.
Atletico Madrid only had one shot on target in the first leg, their lowest tally in a Champions League game under Diego Simeone.
This is the fourth season in succession that these city rivals face off in the Champions League knockout phase; Atletico are yet to claim victory during this recent run (D2 L3).
Atletico Madrid have won 17 of their 22 Champions League home games under Simeone (D4 L1), their only defeat coming against Benfica in September 2015 (1-2). They are unbeaten at the Calderon in the knockout stages (W6 D4).
However, they've scored more than two goals on only one occasion in 10 knockout games at the Calderon under Simeone. It came in March 2014 against AC Milan (4-1).
Real Madrid have won their last five Champions League games, their longest ever run of victories in the knockout stages of the competition. A sixth win in a row would establish a new record for the latter stages of the Champions League.
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Ronaldo has now scored 103 goals in the Champions League, three more than Atletico Madrid. He's netted 0.79 goals per game in the knockout stages (52 in 66 games), a better rate than in the group stages (0.71).
I couldn't have got it any more wrong in the first leg, but I don't think anyone expected Real Madrid to have it that easy. At 1-0 down I still thought Atletico had a chance but obviously not now.
Ronaldo got all the headlines for his hat-trick but I've never seen Atletico play that badly and it must have been one of their worst performances since Diego Simeone took over.
Antoine Griezmann failed to impress but I was really disappointed with the way they failed to utilise Kevin Gameiro's pace against such a fragile backline.
You can see the reaction Zinedine Zidane is getting out of his players with James Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata both bagging doubles at the weekend, also showing the quality in cover for Gareth Bale.
I could see Atletico perhaps building some hope by taking the lead but it's just too difficult to keep this Real attack out while trying to chase the game.
Atletico Madrid will have to defy Sky Bet's odds of 14/1 to book their place in the Champions League final, despite being favourites on the night at 6/4. Zidane's men are 8/5 to heap further misery on their neighbours by beating them again, while they are now marginally odds-on at 10/11 to become the first side to retain the trophy in the competition's modern format.
Ronaldo heads the first goalscorer betting at 7/2 and is 12/1 for another hat-trick, while Griezmann leads the hosts' side of the market at 4/1.