Champions League final 2014: Cristiano Ronaldo to start as Madrid clubs wait on key trio

Cristiano Ronaldo has been given the green light to start in Lisbon but Karim Benzema, Pepe, Diego Costa and Arda Turan will all be given until the last minute

Cristiano Ronaldo is set to start for Real Madrid in Saturday night’s Champions League final but doubts continue to linger over a quartet of key men for both teams on the eve of the big match.

Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said the Portugal captain and former Sporting Lisbon player will have “no problems” in being fit and ready to feature at Benfica’s Estádio da Luz after suffering problems with a hamstring injury. The Italian will, however, be sweating on the fitness of striker Karim Benzema and Portuguese defender Pepe.

They were assessed in Los Blancos’ final training session before the match on Friday, as were key Atletico Madrid duo Diego Costa (groin) and Arda Turan (pelvis). The Rojiblancos pair suffered their injuries in Saturday’s La Liga finale against Barcelona, which saw Atleti win the league for the first time in 18 years, and Simeone will give them until the last minute to prove they are ready to feature. 

“We’ll be looking at them in today’s session,” Simeone told a packed media conference on Friday afternoon. “They trained better yesterday but we’ll have to see how they train and feel, both Diego and Arda, and then we’ll see and decide on that basis.”

Read more: Bale keeps his cool as Real target Decima
Atletico are like Mourinho's Porto 10 years ago, says Deco
Where the final will be won and lost

Spanish international Costa, who has scored 35 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions this season, including eight from eight in his debut Champions League season, has looked to give himself every chance of playing. He took a trip to Belgrade on Wednesday to see Marijana Kovacevic, known as the ‘miracle doctor’, about his injury before returning to train with the rest of his teammates on Thursday and continued his recovery on Friday.

Atleti midfielder Raul Garcia gave no further hints as to the fitness of his teammates but says they are doing everything possible to play in what will be the biggest match of their careers so far. “We’ve been speaking all week long with them,” he said. “We always try to be aware of the physical state of each of our players and they’re doing everything possible to see if they can be ready for tomorrow. That’s what we want and tomorrow we’ll see if they’re ready or not.”

Los Colchoneros will be boosted if both are passed fit but Simeone has been planning alternatives should his injury doubts not make it. “We have to ignore all of external factors when we play as to whether Arda or Costa will play - they're just names,” he said. “They're very important players in team of course but there are other players who know they will be playing if they don’t. We’re working in preparation for whatever happens, the two players who will come in know who they are.”

Ronaldo’s participation looked under threat in his side’s season finale against Espanyol on Saturday when he withdrew from the starting line-up after complaining of discomfort in the warm-up. The 29-year-old, returning to the city that helped shape his career at Sporting, has recovered well, however, and after completing a personalised training programme early this week returned to full training on Thursday.

The chances of Benzema and Pepe are less certain but both completed the final session seemingly unscathed on Friday. “I think today’s session is very important to assess (the fitness of all three players),” said Ancelotti, who is looking for his third Champions League triumph as a manager. “Cristiano doesn't have any problems, he’s trained well. We’ll have to see how Pepe and Benzema are because they haven’t trained this week. Today they will start the training session and after we’ll take the decision.”

Ronaldo has been the player of the tournament so far with a haul of 16 goals that has seen him take the record of most goals in one season of the competition and his manager knows how crucial he will be on Saturday night. “He’s a very important weapon,” he said. “His statistics are there for everyone to see, they're impressive. We need him, he has played an excellent season, scored 16 goals and helped the team to reach this final.”

It will be the fifth time the Spanish capital clubs have met this season. Atleti secured the bragging rights in La Liga by taking four points from a possible six but their more illustrious neighbours eased to a 5-0 aggregate victory in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey. It means both side will know the other well and both managers are expecting a tough night.

“We have to use every resource we have, we have to defend well and attack well,” said Ancelotti. “I don’t expect much of a difference between the two - I also see great similarities in terms of attack and defence.”

Simeone called his opponents “a very comprehensive team” and continued: “They’ve got counter-attack, a good goalkeeper a good defence, strikers - they’re one of the best teams in the world. They’re ranked first in the world so thats who we’re facing. Aside from the fact we won the league we’ll be playing with humility and knowing we’re facing a very good team.”

Xabi Alonso will also miss out for Real Madrid through suspension, with Asier Illarramendi expected to take his place in midfield, while Jese Rodriguez is also definitely sidelined with a knee injury.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Life and Style
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on