BARCELONA, May 22 (Reuters) - The Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid starting lineups for Saturday’s Champions League final in Lisbon are likely to comprise the following players:
Iker Casillas, Age 33.
Inspirational keeper for Real and Spain, he lost his first team place in La Liga but has proved his reactions remain sharp in the cup competitions. Has captained the team to a King’s Cup win this season and is capable of improbable saves, but can also be suspect in the air.
Dani Carvajal, Age 22.
The right-back has made rapid progress having first won Alvaro Arbeloa’s place and then consolidated it when his team-mate was sidelined through injury. Has stood out for his marauding runs down the wing but there remain doubts over his concentration defensively.
Pepe, Age 31.
When Pepe keeps his temper under control he is one of the top centre halves in the game and he forms a solid partnership with Sergio Ramos. Quick, a fierce tackler and strong in the air, he is enjoying possibly his best season for Real. A player rival fans love to hate.
Sergio Ramos, Age 28.
A powerful centre half who is athletic and technically strong, he is Real’s leader at the back. He brings plenty of Andalusian passion but is above all a determined and dependable player who is also a threat at the other end with his powerful headers.
Marcelo, Age 26.
A talented ball-playing fullback who likes to attack down the left wing. He started the campaign as the undisputed first choice but injuries opened the door for Fabio Coentrao who provides more security defensively. Marcelo appears to still be Carlo Ancelotti’s first choice but the Brazilian faces strong competition.
Asier Illarramendi, Age 24.
Bought as a promising youngster from Real Sociedad, he has had a difficult year of adaptation at the Bernabeu and still needs to come out of his shell. At Sociedad he imposed himself on the midfield providing defensive cover and the ability to open up the opposition with his passes. Ancelotti is confident that he can still bring the best out of him at Real and he is likely to replace the suspended Xabi Alonso in the final.
Luka Modric, Age 28.
After a slow start to his Real career, the Croatian has been a key performer this term. A waif-like figure, he was compared to a young Johan Cruyff as a youngster and not just for his looks. He has superb balance and is able to drift past opponents and support the attack from midfield.
Angel Di Maria, Age 26.
“El fideo” (the noodle), as he is nicknamed, has had a dramatic change of fortune over the season, going from a player on the periphery to a central figure in the side. The turnaround came about after he moved from the right wing to the left of a three-man midfield where he provides the pace and passing to unsettle the opposition.
Gareth Bale, Age 24. The marquee signing ahead of this season has yet to explode at Real but he has shown moments of brilliance such as the winner in the Cup final against Barcelona. His pace and a powerful shot have been important tools for Real but he still needs to combine better with his team mates.
Karim Benzema, Age 26.
The Frenchman provides the cutting edge for Real and is looking a lot more motivated under Ancelotti and assistant Zinedine Zidane. He appeared to be going through the motions at times as he was chopped and changed from the starting eleven under former coach Jose Mourinho but has responded well to Ancelotti.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Age 29.
The FIFA Ballon d‘Or winner remains as ambitious as ever and says it is his dream to win the 10th European Cup for Real. Together with Lionel Messi the best players of their generation, the Portuguese is the figurehead of the Real team and is a complete player with pace, strength, strong technique and a devastating shot.
Thibaut Courtois, Age 22.
One of the most sought-after goalkeepers in European football. Despite his youth he has been an integral part of Atletico’s La Liga title winning side, making some crucial saves and he generally offers a sense of security at the back. As well as a strong shot stopper he is also confident at coming for crosses.
Juanfran, Age 29.
A fullback with a strong engine, his dashes down the wing have been a feature of Atletico’s attacks this season. A player who is always willing to give 100 percent, he can be caught out defensively and has worked hard to improve on coping with balls played in behind him.
Miranda, Age 29.
An understated defender who goes about his work quietly and efficiently. He could be accused of lacking personality but it is difficult to criticise an agile player who is composed with the ball at his feet as well as being strong in the air both defensively and when he goes forward.
Diego Godin, Age 28.
Leads the backline with authority and his imposing character is the perfect combination with Miranda’s more reserved style. An aggressive centre half, he is always ready for a battle with the opposition but he also reads the game well. A danger in the air and he has scored key goals for Atletico from set pieces.
Filipe Luis, Age 28.
An agile and technically gifted left back whose drives down the wing and desire to link up with the attack have been a significant weapon this season and he has been missed as much as anyone when injured or suspended. His interplay with Koke and Arda Turan have been a feature of his play as well as his searching crosses.
Koke, Age 22.
A product of Atletico’s youth academy, Koke has come into his own under the guidance of Diego Simeone, providing 13 assists as well as six goals. His performances have made him hot property and Atletico will have to fend off interest from other clubs if they want to keep him.
Gabi, Age 30.
A model of consistency, it is only due to the considerable strength that Spain possess in central midfield that he has not been included in the World Cup squad. A driving force who wears down the opposition with his work-rate while he also possesses a dangerous shot from deep.
Tiago, Age 33.
The Portuguese has come to the fore this season after a long-term injury for Mario Suarez gave him a run in the team and saw him standout with his tenacity in challenges and his tactical acumen. It will likely be a straight choice between Mario and Tiago for who partners Gabi in the Champions League final and the latter’s superior distribution may see him win the day.
Arda Turan, Age 27.
The most creative of the Atletico midfielders and the player that can offer a twist or a sudden burst to find space and open up the game. There is no doubting his value to the side and while he has been hampered by niggling injuries towards the end of the season he has still made a telling contribution.
Diego Costa, Age 25.
The talisman for Atletico who has emerged from the shadow of Radamel Falcao. He has firmly responded to critics, who felt the team would lack firepower this season, with his pace, eye for a goal and fiery spirit spurring Atletico on to success. He has worked effectively to control his temper and channel it for the good of the team.
David Villa, Age 32. The veteran striker may have lost some of his agility but he retains his alertness in the box and has been the preferred choice to partner Diego Costa for much of the season. His fighting spirit coupled with experience could well see him start the Champions League final despite fierce competition from Raul Garcia and Adrian. (Compiled by Tim Hanlon, editing by Justin Palmer)