Improbably, Diego Costa has a chance of taking to the field in Saturday’s Champions League final just a week after limping out of Atletico Madrid’s La Liga title decider with a hamstring injury and soon being seen flowing with tears on the bench. The striker, who has scored 36 goals this season, has been able to take part in training with his teammates ahead of the meeting with rivals Real Madrid in Lisbon. He remains a major doubt, however, as does his teammate Arda Turan, who was also forced off the pitch with an injury as Atletico won their first La Liga title in 18 years.
“We're going to evaluate Diego Costa and Arda,” Atletico manager Diego Simeone said on Friday, according to Spanish publication AS. “Yesterday they trained better and we'll see with today's session. Then we'll see what they feel and we'll see. It depends on how they feel and what the doctors say.”
If Costa fails to make it, Adrian Lopez, who replaced him on Saturday and filled in for him with distinction in the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, is likely to step in. Goal-scoring midfielder Raul Garcia and Brazilian playmaker Diego are potential alternatives to Turan.
Real Madrid also have two significant injury concerns. To the relief of the nine-time European champions, star man Cristiano Ronaldo is no longer one of them, having been declared fit despite being forced to withdraw from the final La Liga game of the season having suffered a groin problem in the warm-up. Gareth Bale will also start, despite his fitness being carefully managed in recent weeks. Karim Benzema, who was taken off in the match with an abductor muscle problem, and Pepe, who is still recovering from a tear to his calf muscle, however, remain major concerns.
“Today's training is important,” manager Carlo Ancelotti said ahead of Friday’s training session in Lisbon, reports AS. “Cristiano and [Gareth] Bale are fine. We'll have to see how Pepe and Benzema are and we'll take a decision tomorrow.”
While Pepe and Sergio Ramos have formed an increasingly impressive partnership this season, the Portuguese defender’s absence would not pose undue concern. Ancelotti would be able to call upon impressive young France international Raphael Varane, who was selected ahead of Pepe for much of the second half of last season.
The loss of Benzema would represent a bigger blow. The former Lyon man has scored 24 goals this season, and formed a devastating front three alongside Ronaldo and Bale. His absence would mean Angel di Maria being moved forward from the midfield role he has occupied in recent months and either Ronaldo or Bale switching to an unfamiliar central striker role, or else youngster Alvaro Morata being selected for only his second-ever start in the Champions League.
The match will be the first-ever European Cup/Champions League final contested by two teams from the same city. While Madrid are chasing an unprecedented 10th title, Atletico are seeking their first in what will be their only their second final, 40 years after their first.
Kickoff Time: The Champions League final will kick off from Lisbon’s Estadio da Luz Stadium at 2.45 p.m. ET on Saturday.