After two finals in the previous three years, Real Madrid will this time face their rivals Atletico Madrid in the semi finals of the Champions League, in Cardiff on June 3.
Diego Simeone`s men will be looking for revenge after two failed attempts against Los Blancos, who are through to their seventh consecutive semi-final, a record for the competition.
Reasons for Real Madrid:
1/ Los Blancos are the only team that have won a Champions League match at the Estadio Vicente Calderon. This was in 2015 when a goal from Javier Hernandez was enough to defeat Los Rojiblancos 1-0.
2/ Cristiano Ronaldo is the king of the Europe. The Portuguese man has scored 32 of Real`s 100 Champions League goals at the quarter-final to final stage. With 5 against Bayern Munich in the last games, he seems unstoppable at the moment.
3/ The psychological factor.After victories in both finals, in Lisbon and Milan, Los Blancos could have the mental strength over their neighbours.
4/ Fully fit squad. Zinedine Zidane, will hope as long as there are no more set backs, he will have plenty of players to select from. Gareth Bale is ready and Pepe and Raphael Varane will also be back in time.
5/ Strong squad depth:Marco Asencio, Isco, James Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata and Mateo Kovacic, will all be on stand by if things start going wrong.
Reasons for Atletico Madrid:
1/ Vicente Calderon is a fortress. In Europe, at home, Atletico haven't conceded a goal in 723 minutes, in the final stages of the Champions League. The last time this happened was in 2013/14, when Kaka scored Milan`s only goal in the 4-1 defeat.
2/ Griezmann is in top form. If there is a footballer who can win a game on his own right now it`s Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman also scored in the last derby match between the two sides.
3/ One of the best defences in Europe. With Jan Oblak in-goal, and a solid defensive unit at the back, only Juventus have a better record in Europe.
4/ Two legs will suit them. Diego Simeone is a coach who will relish making his players thrash it out for over 180 minutes of football, and his side dominate the stats when it comes to work rate.
5/ Unbeaten at home.Since the arrival of Simeone, Atletico have defeated all who have stood in their way at home. PSV, Barcelona (twice), Bayer Leverkusen, and AC Milan, have all lost out when coming to Spain. And with it being the last game ever in the Champions League at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, the atmosphere that will be generated will be electric.
Barcelona make Neymar CAS appeal in the nick of time
Friday was the last day for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to accept Barcelona's appeal in hopes of Neymar's ban being reduced and thus being allowed to play in El Clasico on Sunday.
The plea was presented at the last possible moment before the end of business, and although the intention has been stated, the full details of their argument haven't been received by the international body.
Neymar was sent off against Malaga and then handed an additional two matches for sarcastically applauding the fourth official, and as things currently stand, will miss Sunday's match.
The Spanish appeals commitee have already turned down Barcelona's appeal, and the CAS will have the final say over whether the Brazilian is allowed to play.
Bale ready for El Clasico
Real Madrid returned to training on Friday morning and the sight of Gareth Bale working normally will have please Zinedine Zidane ahead of Sunday's El Clasico test.
The Welshman has recovered sufficiently to be considered for the game, however it's not clear at this stage if the Frenchman will start him or bring him off of the bench.
Luis Enrique, for his part, preferred to give his Barcelona players the day off.
Guardiola: I know how difficult it is to play against Real Madrid
Following Real Madrid's Champions League quarter-final victory over Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Pep Guardiola said how proud his successor Carlo Ancelotti should be of his side's efforts despite only having ten men on the pitch.
Guardiola who has coached in both Spain and Germany, felt that the German giants were unlucky not to progress, as Arturo Vidal was dismissed during an intense game in which Los Blancos won 4-2 after extra-time.
"For me, if it had been 11 vs. 11, I feel Bayern Munich would have done better," he explained to the media.
"I know exactly how hard it is facing Madrid at the [Estadio Santiago] Bernabeu, they should all think themselves unlucky."
Now the coach of Manchester City, the Spaniard's side were eliminated in the last-16 stage of the competition but only by the away goal rule, after a 6-6 draw on aggregate against Monaco.
"The match against Monaco was important, we wanted to win and reach the next round," he said.
"Trophies are what give you confidence, and by not winning them, you start to doubt yourself."
On Sunday, Man City will face Arsenal in the English FA Cup semi-final, and with the Premier League looking out of the reach, this could be the Spaniard's only hope of silverware this season.
"I want to win the FA Cup, and make my players belive they can," he explained.
"My players doubt themselves, and for me, changing their minds and making them successful is one of my greatest challenges."
Gabriel Jesus was signed for 32 million, and the young Brazilian has made a huge impact since his arrival in January, but a metatarsal injury has ruled him out for over three months.
"He [Jesus] is recovering well and trained with us today," the City coach said.
"We are all very happy, because he is nearly back, he will travel with us to Wembley, so lets see if he plays or not."
Playing at Wembley Stadium will be extra special for Guardiola, where as a player he won the Champions League, and as a coach defeated a Manchester United team dubbed the best in the world at the time.
"I will never forget my first game here [Wembley], because [Ronald] Koeman set me up wonderfully during this victory."
"As for my second win, I will never forget how well we [Barcelona] played in this match, the first twenty-five minutes of the second half, the football was fantastic," he continued.
"It has always been a special stadium." he said.
After falling out with Yaya Toure during his time coaching in Spain, the Ivory Coast star has won his way back into Pep's City side this season.
"He [Toure] played well against Southampton, last month I didn't use him as much and he knows why and will always know my opinion of him," he explained.
The Man City youth side have recently reached the FA Youth Cup final against Chelsea, and Pep admitted the club shows great potential, and even the Women's team are performing well, reaching their own FA Cup final.
"There are two or three incredible talents in the youth side," he said.
"Congratulations to the girls, they beat Liverpool and will now be involved in a tough final, I hope they do well."
Messi enters final stretch
Barcelona and Jorge Messi will meet up once again in the coming days in order to discuss Lionel Messi's contract renewal, with the player's father already in the city with the intention of closing an agreement with the club before the summer.
Both parties started with their dialogue in the late stages of last year, with both similarly wanting to extend the period that the Argentine is currently contracted to.
Since then, there has been work put in on both ends to make it happen, with the player knowing that he has time in his favour.
Up until this point, the club hadn't felt hard-pushed to put their foot on the accelerator regarding the deal, but now the situation has changed.
Josep Maria Bartomeu does not want to get into the summer without their star player having signed a new deal.
He believes it to be very dangerous to head towards the coming months with their player freely able to speak to other clubs. Barcelona's elimination from the Champions League has affected the situation too, with the club president wanting to wipe out the negative feelings that have sprung from the result on Wednesday.
If the team fall to a defeat on Sunday at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, the pressure will increase further.
For this reason, Bartomeu wants to speed up the process. The idea is that the player and the club want to spend many more years together, but his current contract only runs until June 2018.
Another event running parallel is the dispute over tax allegations made towards Messi.
The player and his father could face 21 months in prison, with a 3.5 million euro fine, but the accused have made it clear that the sentence is not correct.
The Supreme Court began their discussions over the sentence yesterday, but the ruling is not expected to come immediately.
As is normal, the verdict should come after around a month, although it could be delayed to two.
It shouldn't, however, influence the player's contract renewal in any way.
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