Sports

May 282016
 
Atletico Madrid have never won the European Cup while Real have 10 wins

Champions League final

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid:
San Siro, Milan
How to follow:
Listen live BBC Radio 5 live from 19:45 BST and follow live-text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres believes Saturday’s Champions League final meeting with Real Madrid is the “most important” game of his life.

The Spaniard, 32, won the trophy with Chelsea in 2012 and has also won the World Cup and European Championships.

But since making his debut in 2001 and returning last year, Torres has never won a major trophy with Atletico.

“This is different, this is special,” said Torres. “It’s what I wanted when I was a kid, more than I dreamed.”

Torres made his Atletico debut in 2001 before leaving in 2007

“Without any doubt it’s the most important, special and lovely game of my life,” added Torres, whose Atleti loan deal and contract at parent club AC Milan expire at the end of the season.

“Anything I can do with the club that gave me the chance to start my career, the team I was a fan of since I was five years old, is different to anything else I’ve won.”

Torres, who left the Vicente Calderon to join Liverpool in 2007, missed Atletico’s spell of success from 2010 to 2014 where the club claimed two Europa League wins, the Spanish Cup and the La Liga title in 2014.

He has managed 12 goals for Diego Simeone’s side this term as they finished third in La Liga and booked a place in what is a re-run of the 2014 Champions League final.

Fit and chasing his own record

Cristiano Ronaldo has 51 goals for Real Madrid this season

Listen: Podcast – The European Football Show

Real Madrid’s 4-1 extra-time win in Lisbon in 2014 saw Los Blancos sweat on the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo while their city rivals lost talisman Diego Costa after nine minutes.

There have been doubts over Ronaldo’s fitness again this time around but he has declared himself fit as he chases a third Champions League success.

“Cristiano always appears in the games that matter,” he told reporters. “I’ll be at 100%. On Saturday, I’ll be in better form than I was in Lisbon.”

Ronaldo has scored 16 goals in this season’s Champions League – as many as the entire Atletico Madrid squad – and could break his own record of 17 in a single campaign.

But despite finishing two points above Atletico in La Liga, Real’s recent record against Simeone’s side boasts just one win in six competitive meetings.

Simeone ‘loves it’

Diego Simeone has overseen a dramatic turn in Atletico Madrid’s fortunes

Listen: Diego Simeone v Zinedine Zidane

Simeone has dragged Atletico into Europe’s elite since his appointment in 2011.

Los Rojiblancos finished ninth in La Liga in the season before he arrived but have placed fifth, third, first and third on two more occasions since.

Resolute displays to eliminate Barcelona and Bayern Munich in reaching the final drew praise and the stats back up the often well-documented organisation of Simeone’s side.

They have conceded just seven goals in their run to the final and just two in their last nine games of the season.

“It’s down to stability, balance, work, enormous competitiveness, internally and externally,” said Simeone, 46. “That has put us where we are and the only way to keep that going is to keep winning.”

But while they have closed the gap to Real domestically, Saturday’s meeting in Milan’s San Siro will see Atletico chase their first European Cup in a 113-year-history as Zinedine Zidane’s side seek their 11th.

“I love having 113 years of history on my shoulders, I love it,” added Simeone.

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Pearson named new Derby County boss

 Posted by at 11:28 PM
May 272016
 
Nigel Pearson had previously been linked with the managerial vacancy at Aston Villa

Derby County have appointed former Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson as their manager on a three-year contract.

Pearson, 52, has been out of work since being sacked by Leicester City in June 2015, having taken the Foxes to Premier League safety.

Darren Wassall, who guided the Rams to fifth in the Championship before their play-off semi-final loss to Hull, will return to his role as academy director.

Former Derby left-back Chris Powell will join as Pearson’s assistant.

Ex-Carlisle and Southampton manager Pearson was first appointed by Leicester in 2008, and led the club to promotion from League One during his first season in charge.

After losing to Cardiff in the Championship play-offs the following season, he left the Foxes to take over at Hull – only to return to Leicester again less than 18 months later.

Pearson went on to lead them to the Premier League in 2014, but was sacked when relations between him and the club’s board were “no longer viable”.

The Foxes won seven and drew one of their last 10 games under Pearson to retain their top-flight status, which they went on to top as champions this season.

‘The perfect appointment’

“Nigel is a proven winner, a highly experienced manager who has track record of success in the Championship,” chairman Mel Morris told Derby’s website.