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Real or Atleti: Which team should you back?

Steve Tallantyre/The Local/AFP · 23 May 2014, 16:49

Published: 23 May 2014 16:49 GMT+02:00

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Two clubs, one city, and one of the most eagerly anticipated football matches in recent years. Those are the ingredients for a scintillating evening of soccer when the local rivals travel to the Estadio de Luz in Lisbon, Portugal, to contest European club football's top prize.

For fans of the two teams it's an opportunity to dress up in club colours, cheer, curse and ride the evening's emotional rollercoaster, but  for neutrals the match may be a more nuanced affair.

In case you're still straddling the halfway line, unsure of whom to support, here's our guide to the two teams.

Real Madrid Club de Futbol

  • Founded: 1902
  • Home ground: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
  • Colours: Home - White shirts, white shorts, white socks; Away - Blue shirts, blue shorts, blue and white socks
  • President: Florentino Perez
  • Coach: Carlo Ancelotti
  • Captain: Iker Casillas
  • Star Player: Cristiano Ronaldo

The world's biggest football club? Some say so, especial Real Madrid fans. Los Merengues (the meringues, after their white shirts) certainly have bragging rights when it comes to the size of their trophy cabinet: 32 domestic La Liga triumphs and a record 9 European Cup/UEFA Champions League wins have made them the richest club on the planet — or is it vice versa?

Despite their €513 million ($700 million) annual turnover, it's now 12 years since Real lifted the Champions League and they could only manage third place in this year's La Liga. Manager Carlos Ancelotti will be motivated by the chance to become just the second man in history to lift the trophy three times, having already tasted victory with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.

Recent form aside, Real Madrid are the Goliaths in this match. Rich and powerful, they represent the Spanish establishment and will expect, as always, nothing less than absolute victory — the magic décima or tenth European cup trophy — over their upstart rival so that they can get back to the usual business of battling it out with FC Barcelona.

The Fans:

  • Favourite drink: gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire of course)
  • Sunday outfit: pink polo shirt
  • Half-time sandwich filling: the finest acorn-fed, cured bellota ham

Why side with Real? Because you play the odds, back winners and enjoy watching a team packed with some of the sport's greatest talents.

Club Atletico de Madrid

  • Founded: 1903
  • Home ground: Estadio Vicente Calderón
  • Colours: Home - Red and white striped shirts, light blue shorts, red socks; Away - Yellow shirts with dark blue panels, yellow shorts, yellow socks
  • President: Enrique Cerezo
  • Coach: Diego Pablo Simeone
  • Captain: Gabi
  • Star Player: Diego Costa

The two-horse race that is Spain's La Liga was interrupted in style this year by an inspired Atlético Madrid side who surged past Real Madrid then pipped Barcelona at the post in the Nou Camp on the last day of the season to lift the trophy for the first time in 18 years, the tenth such triumph in the club's long history.

Simeone's side was never expected to be this good. Richer teams constantly circle the financially vulnerable club like vultures, picking off its star players. Current top scorer Diego Costa, currenly under an injury cloud and no certainty to play on Saturday, came to Atletico for relative peanuts and, with Chelsea waving fat cheques at him, is strongly rumoured to have only one more game left for Los Colchoneros (the mattress-makers, after their red-and-white stripes in the style of old mattresses).

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Simeone himself might also be lured away by the promise of higher wages after working what many in football perceive to be a miracle in Spain.

This then, could be Atlético's last chance for some time to taste European glory. The working-class and long-suffering Atlético fanbase has only ever been to one European final, losing in 1974 to Bayern Munich.  The tireless supporters will want to savour the moment and desperately hope that their unlikely heroes can achieve the improbable before the inevitable squad demolition and rebuilding begins again next year.

The Fans:

  • Favourite drink : caña (draught beer)
  • Sunday outfit: club strip
  • Half-time sandwich filling: supermarket chorizo

Why side with Atlético? Because you're sentimental, back the underdog and enjoy watching a team of motivated players give their all for the fans.

Steve Tallantyre/The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.es)

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