Madrid so mad for it; WINNERS WILL REWRITE HISTORY IN EURO FINAL.
Not since being tripped up by Goldenballs, has Diego Simeone enjoyed so much attention, and should his side win next week it could be ranked among the greatest managerial feats in history.
The Argentine has not only managed to shake up the status quo in La Liga, he has also brought a team to the verge of European glory on a budget that's smaller than QPR's.
If you think about that for a second, it'd be like getting the shift of Georgia Salpa even though you're sporting a beer belly, a ginger beard and the personality of Jim Corr.
Despite being completely outgunned in terms of household names, a quick glance at Atleti's stats show that they are full value for their place in the final.
Simeone's defence is among the meanest in Europe, having only conceded 22 goals in the league, while in Diego Costa they have one of the most lethal strikers on the planet - something which has not been lost on a certain Signor Mourinho of West London.
Despite being so close, their run could be undone in the cruellest way imaginable by their nearest rivals who have lorded over them throughout history and particularly so in recent years.
However, for Real the price of victory is immense and the thought of failure galling.
While Atletico are trying to lift the trophy for the first time, Madrid are aiming to end a drought - by their standards - of 12 years and with it claim their 10th title.
Ratcheting up double figures in European crowns has become an obsession for those at the Bernabeu and it will weigh heavily on the players as they make their way on to the pitch.
Despite the obvious pressure, Real have begun to look their old selves in Europe this season, easily dispatching of the lesser lights in the tournament before tearing Bayern Munich asunder in a tactical master class.
The speed at which they counter- attacked against Munich was frightening and while Atletico won't press as high as the Germans did, Simeone will still be concerned by the ability of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to turn any game with a moment's magic.
Despite the threat that Carlo Ancelotti's side pose, Atleti won't fear them and will play with the same freedom as they have all season.
This should lead to a slugfest where both sides pepper each other's goal and with the attacking threat that both sides pose, it's difficult to see either of them failing to hit the back of the net.
Not being a fence-sitter I'm going to stump for Real to do the business with both teams scoring at 10/3. Another bet that's always worthwhile, is Mr Big Game himself Ronaldo netting first at 16/5 and for there to be a sending off at 4/1, with two of the most prickly players on the planet, Costa and Pepe, going head to head.
While the Madrid rivalry can't really compare to El Clasico, it's fair to say these noisy neighbours don't care for each other much - so stand well clear!
DOUBLE TROUBLE: Bale (left) and Ronaldo have inspired Real Madrid this season
SEEING RED: The clash between Pepe (left) and Diego Costa (main, with Simeone) will be tasty
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|Publication:||Sunday Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||May 18, 2014|
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