Saturday, 24 May 2014

Costa and Turan train with teammates on eve of Champions League final

Diego Costa and Arda Turan took part in training with Atletico Madrid teammates at the Estadio da Luz Friday ahead the Champions League final clash with city rivals Real Madrid.

The pair have been an integral part of Atletico's title winning side but remain doubts for Saturday's fixture after being forced off during last weekend's league clash with Barcelona -- the match that saw Atleti clinch La Liga for the first time in 16 years.

Costa mainly trained alone on Thursday but was able to join in drills with teammates Friday.

The naturalized Spaniard, who has scored 36 goals in 51 appearances this season, reportedly flew to Sarajevo for horse-placenta treatment on a hamstring tear earlier this week while Turan has nursed the hip-knock he sustained against the Catalans at the club's training base in Madrid.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone, however, remained tight-lipped about the pair's chances of making his starting lineup in Lisbon on Saturday.

"Costa and Arda are important players but they are just names, it will either be them playing or two others who know who they are," Simeone told reporters.
"We will examine Diego Costa and the other injury doubts today. They trained better yesterday but we have to see how they feel," he added.

The Argentine is looking to become just the third non-European coach to win the continent's premier club competition after compatriots Luis Carniglia and Helenio Herrera but is wary of an opponent he knows well.

No two teams from the same city have ever contested the Champions League final before or its predecessor, the European Cup.

"We don't know how Madrid will play, we've worked with different possibilities and we will try to block them and find a way to control the match the way we need," Simeone said.

The sides have met four times already this season with Atletico claiming one league win against Real's two victories in the double-legged Copa del Rey semifinal.

The other league match was drawn.

Real face injury concerns of their own ahead of the clash that could see them lift the illusive "decima," their tenth European crown which has become an obsession since they won their ninth continental title in 2002.

Star players Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have been struggling for fitness in recent weeks but both are expected to play Saturday.

Portuguese defender, Pepe, and French striker, Karim Benzema, however, are less likely to make it.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said: "we will assess the injuries at training. Cristiano has trained without problems but Pepe and Benzema haven't trained this week."

"We will take the decision for tomorrow after this session which they will take part in," he added.

Ancelotti is aiming to lift the Champions League trophy for the third time as a manager, having done so with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.

But reports have suggested the Italian's position could come under scrutiny should Real fail to win Saturday.

Los Blancos claimed the Copa del Rey trophy in April but stumbled to a third placed finish in La Liga behind Atletico and Barcelona.

In what may have been comments relating to these reports, Ancelotti said: "I have clear memories of my last press conference before the 2007 final and I said 'this may be my last press conference, let me enjoy it.'"

"It wasn't, but this one may be - so let me enjoy it. There's a thin line between an obsession and a dream, but my aim is to realize the dream," he said.

Real defender, Sergio Ramos, accompanied Ancelotti at Friday's press conference and spoke effusively of his manager.

"Since Carlo Ancelotti arrived he has emphasized hard work and intensity and now that is what Real Madrid are associated with," Ramos said.

"He has playing experience which makes him different to other coaches. We realize the efforts many of our fans have to make to come, some will have been saving all year long and that is motivation for the team."

"Even those who couldn't come, we have to do everything possible to make them happy."





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