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Zidane: Ronaldo, Isco, Carvajal to be fit for UCL final

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Liverpool will have to face a full-strength Real Madrid side in the upcoming UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Dani Carvajal are all expected to be fit and ready to go against Liverpool, according to Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane. The trio have picked up knocks in recent weeks, including Ronaldo, who was substituted at halftime of Sunday’s El Clasico against Barcelona with an ankle injury.

[READ: Liverpool’s Joe Gomez out for season]

“Isco trained as normal and we’ll see what happens there,” Zidane said. “Carvajal needs a little more time but he trained alone today and he is doing well physically. They will all feature in the Champions League final. I am 150 percent sure about that.

On Ronaldo, Zidane said, “When what happened with Cristiano Ronaldo happened, and it was something minor, the best we could hope is that the player recovers as soon as possible and that’s that. It is football, you can’t control it…he got injured but is doing well, walking as normal. It is great that he can walk already and that shows his drive and ambition to get back and play every game. It would be perfect to have him back for the Villarreal game (on May 19). It is a knock, but he didn’t damage his fibula. His ankle is ok.”

The inclusion of the trio will certainly give Zidane a selection headache, but it also makes Liverpool’s chances of winning decrease slightly, as it will have to go up against the three-time defending Champions League winners with a fit Ronaldo and one of Europe’s top creative midfielders in Isco.

Having Carvajal on the backline as well gives Real Madrid a reliable defender to mark either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah.

LIVE — Real, Juventus meet in Cardiff for UCL finale

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There’s a lot on the line Saturday in Cardiff as Real Madrid and Juventus face off for the UEFA Champions League title, and no matter which side comes out on top we’re in store for something special.

The Millennium Stadium is the setting as Zinedine Zidane and Real are on the verge of capturing their third UCL crown in the past four seasons, a feat that has never been accomplished in the Champions League Era.

Meanwhile, Juventus seeks its first UCL title since the mid-1990s and looks to get the job done after falling short against Barcelona two seasons ago.

Cristiano Ronaldo has had another historic season for Los Blancos, totaling 10 goals in this year’s UCL competition, while Argentine duo Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala attempt to close the deal for Juventus with their combined 52 goals across all competitions.

Here are the squads ahead of Saturday’s final:

Real Madrid: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo.

Juventus: Buffon; Sandro, Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; Pjanic, Khedira; Mandzukic, Dybala, Alves; Higuain.

Scenes from Cardiff ahead of UCL final

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The Millennium Stadium will be the setting for the UEFA Champions League final but the entire city of Cardiff is buzzing as Real Madrid and Juventus prepare to do battle.

Although the Premier League season is past us for the time being, Saturday’s contest in Wales will surely provide a memorable

Check out some of the sights from Cardiff with just a few hours remaining before kick off.

 

UCL FOLLOW LIVE: Lineups as Atleti, Real duel in finale

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After their devastating defeat two seasons ago, Atletico Madrid looks for revenge and their first UEFA Champions League title on Saturday against Real Madrid.

Milan will be the site for the action, as Zinedine Zidane and Real are seeking their 11th title in the competition and have the opportunity to knock Atleti out in the title match for the second time in three seasons.

To follow live, click here.

LINEUPS

Real Madrid: Navas, Marcelo, Ramos, Pepe, Carvajal, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema Subs: Casilla, James, Nacho, Lucas Vasquez, Jese, Isco, Danilo

Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Filipe Luis, Godin, Savic, Juanfran; Gabi, Fernandez, Koke, Saul Niguez; Griezmann, Torres. Subs: Moya, Tiago, Correa, Hernandez, Thomas, Ferreira-Carrasco, Gimenez.

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UEFA Champions League final preview — Madrid’s finest Real or Atleti?

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Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final isn’t quite the unstoppable force against the immovable object — Real’s defense is good and Atleti has plenty of attacking intent — but it’s fair if you’re expecting the Madrid Derby final to be Diego Simeone’s diligent defenders attempting to counter Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid’s potent attack.

[ MORE: Mourinho confirmed ]

Simeone’s built his name on tight teamwork, and La Liga teams broke Atleti down a mere 18 times in 38 matches this season. Before you crow about the weakness of Spain’s top flight from top to bottom, Real only managed a single goal against Atleti in a 1-1 draw that came at the Vicente Calderon. Atleti triumphed 1-0 at the Bernabeu to take four of six points from their derby mates.

But this is the big one, and a rematch of the late thriller we saw in the 2014 final. That’s when Diego Godin’s 36th minute goal came within seconds of being the difference, only for Sergio Ramos to net in stoppage time and Real to score three goals in extra time for a 4-1 win.

[ MORE: Torres ready for “game of my life” ]

Ronaldo will be fine to go, which is obviously bad news for Atleti. While his goal at the end of the 2014 final was just chiseled-ab window dressing, he has scored in both of his UCL finals (He scored for Manchester United in the 26th minute of their 2008 defeat of Chelsea).

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The beauty of Atleti’s defense is how well it springs into the attack, with Godin and Filipe Luis both capable of providing offense.

But really, with respect to Gabi and Antoine Griezmann… that defense! Atleti allowed three goals in the group stage, and just seven across its 12 UCL matches.

How will Simeone aim to stop Real this time around? Will it be banks of four or five, with Torres and Griezmann waiting to strike on a fleet-footed counter? That could serve their disciplined unit well, but something tells me Simeone has something special cooked up for this much-anticipated rematch, and manager is a distinct edge for Atleti against a still-learning Zinedine Zidane.

As an aside, Griezmann has been fantastic, scoring 32 times this year with seven coming in the UCL. Torres is second in scoring, with 12.