Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo says Saturday’s Champions League final against neighbors Atletico Madrid is a game all ‘Madridistas’ have been dreaming about.
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti will attempt to succeed where the likes of Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello and Manuel Pellegrini failed on Saturday by finally ending Real Madrid’s wait for a 10th European Cup in Lisbon.
Ancelotti is Real’s 11th coach since they last conquered Europe back in 2002 under Vicente del Bosque and the club’s quest for ‘La Decima’ (the 10th) has increasingly turned into an obsession for the big-spending Spanish giants.
Ancelotti has already done better than some of the biggest names in the game by getting Real back into the final – the first time they have graced the showpiece since Zinedine Zidane’s famous volley saw them beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at Hampden 12 years ago.
However, the Italian knows that is only part of the battle, with all Real fans now desperate for the club to get their hands on the trophy again.
Ronaldo, whose 16 goals in this season’s competition are a record, said on www.uefa.com: "It is a moment that all Madridistas are dreaming about – the ‘decima’.
"It is a trophy we have been looking to win for many years. Real Madrid have wanted it for a long time. Since the first day we came here, we’ve felt that positive pressure to win the Champions League. We feel like we are now one small step away from winning."
Long-serving defender Sergio Ramos, who has won pretty much every other honor in the game but is playing in his first Champions League final, added on the Bwin website: "It’s a unique experience. It’s a reward for all the sacrifice and hard work over so many years.
"Although we look at it from the perspective of the group, this is the pay-off for the work the team has put in throughout the last few years, during which time we hadn’t been fortunate enough to reach the final. At last the time has come to experience this amazing moment."
Standing in Real’s way at the Estadio da Luz are a familiar foe, with Atletico looking to seal what would be their greatest season by lifting the European Cup for the first time.
Atletico have already caused a major upset this year by beating Real and Barcelona to the Primera Division title – their first since 1996 – and now they have a chance of adding the Champions League crown in what will be the first Euopean Cup final between two teams from the same city.
Diego Simeone, who has already won the league, Copa del Rey and Europa League in just three seasons as Atletico coach, said: "It’s the fruit of the labor that we’ve been doing for nearly three years.
"We responded well in the Europa League a year and a half ago, if I remember rightly. We still have the same humility, the same group ethic."