Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid: Five talking points ahead of the Champions League semi-final showdown

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick has put the visitors within touching distance of a second successive final in Europe's elite competition

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The Independent Football

Atletico Madrid host city rivals Real on Wednesday night aiming to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick proved to be the difference last week and puts the visitors within touching distance of a second successive final in Europe's elite competition.

Here, we take a look at five talking points ahead of the tie:

Real fans think it is all over...

After the events of last Tuesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu, and another hat-trick for Ronaldo, Real fans could be forgiven if they had already started planning a trip to European club football's showpiece event in Cardiff on June 3. No team has overturned more than a one-goal deficit after the first leg of a Champions League semi-final. And don't forget Real are still gloating from a penalty shoot-out victory over Atletico in last season's final as well as a 4-1 win in Lisbon three years ago.

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Ronaldo has handed Real the advantage (Getty)

A glimmer of hope for the hosts

Diego Simeone's men did record a 4-0 triumph in their February 2015 LaLiga clash. On that occasion goals from Tiago, Saul Niguez, Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic sealed Real's worst loss since they were humbled 5-0 by rivals Barcelona in 2010. While a repeat looks highly unlikely, in any given 90 minutes of football, pretty much anything can happen - as Paris St Germain found out when they strolled into Barcelona 4-0 up from the first leg of their last 16 encounter.

The case for the defence

Real's LaLiga thrashing two years ago came during a defensive injury crisis. Centre-backs Raphael Varane and Pepe have both shaken off niggles, but the latter has not played for a month and Zinedine Zidane may well err on the side of caution. However, with the likes of Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Lucas Vazquez, Marco Asensio and Alvaro Morata all at his disposal, even if Wales forward Gareth Bale remains sidelined, don't expect anything else than a formidable frontline ready to kill off the tie at the earliest opportunity.

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Pepe has been absent for the past month (Getty)

Atletico's Vicente Calderon swansong

Traditionally, the Vicente Calderon has proved one of the most intimidating venues of European football. From next season, though, Atletico's 51-year residency will come to an end when the club moves to the new 67,000-capacity Wanda Metropolitano in the north of the Spanish capital, which is in the running to host the 2019 Champions League final. A final European tie is sure to be an emotional occasion - but one which both Los Colchoneros' players and fans alike must not let get to them if they are to all pull together and produce a comeback fitting for the Vincente Calderon's Champions League send-off before the area is converted into flats.

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Atletico Madrid's Vicente Calderon stadium (Getty)

Zidane vows not to sit back

"We are not going to change the way we play," declared Real Madrid coach Zidane as he faced the media ahead of Wednesday night's showdown. Given the displays of his team in recent weeks, with a much-changed line-up sweeping past relegated Granada in their last outing, you would not expect anything else. Real have scored 24 goals in their last seven outings in all competitions, and Los Blancos are currently on a run of having scored in each of their last 60 games in all competitions.

PA

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