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Real Madrid’s bln euro ‘La Decima’ obsession Ronaldo, Bale to start final against Atletico

MADRID, May 20, (AFP): Real Madrid face local rivals and newly crowned La Liga champions Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final in Lisbon on Saturday desperate to land their long-awaited tenth European crown. It has been 12 years since Zinedine Zidane looked up into the drizzly Glasgow sky and connected sweetly on the volley to score one the of the great European Cup final goals to hand Real the trophy for a ninth time. For Florentino Perez’s Galactico led project that was supposed to be merely the beginning. Zidane had followed the controversial signing of Luis Figo from eternal rivals Barcelona a year earlier and was supposed to lead a domination of Europe akin to that which saw Real become world renowned by winning the first five European Cups between 1956 and 1960.

However, in more than a decade since the club has spent over a billion euros on the likes of David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, had five presidential changes and gone through 11 managers in their quest to win the “La Decima” - their tenth European title. Now in his second stint as president, Perez has placed his trust in the calm of Carlo Ancelotti’s proven track record in the competition after falling at the semi-final stage three years in a row in a rollercoaster period under Jose Mourinho’s stewardship. Ancelotti could beat Mourinho into becoming the first man since Bob Paisley to win European football’s biggest prize three times as a coach having done so twice as a manager and a player with AC Milan.

The Italian quickly learned about what he has called Real’s “obsession” to win the Champions League, addressing it in numerous times throughout the campaign. However, he has admitted that Real have paid for their focus on Champions League in recent weeks as their La Liga title hopes were wiped out by taking just two points from a possible nine in games against Valencia, Valladolid and Celta Vigo. That dip was even more surprising as it came on the back of Real’s 4-0 thrashing of reigning European champions Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to seal their place in the final 5-0 on aggregate.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti insisted both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale will start for his side in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid on Saturday despite ongoing injury worries. Both players joined Karim Benzema and Pepe in not training with the rest of their teammates on Tuesday morning with Ronaldo the only one to take to the field as he did his own light workout. However, Ancelotti is sure the two most expensive players in the world will line-up at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. “Bale didn’t train because he did specific work in the gym. We preferred that he did that work in the gym and he didn’t need to go out onto the field. “The two of them are going to play. That is what is important for us.”

Ronaldo himself claimed that despite missing much of Real’s unsuccessful chase for the La Liga title in recent weeks, he will be back to full fitness for the clash in his homeland. “These things can happen. We train every day and play ever weekend and midweek, so it is normal that sometimes the body reacts negatively. I have had some bad luck and small problems towards the end of the season, but it is normal,” said the World Player of the Year.

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