Diego Simeone had little desire to discuss old foe Cristiano Ronaldo as Atletico Madrid prepare to host Juventus in a mouthwatering Champions League last-16 clash.

Ronaldo completed a shock €112million switch to Juve in July, having won four Champions League titles with Real Madrid and become the LaLiga giants' all-time top scorer.

The five-time Ballon d'Or recipient netted 22 times in Madrid derbies but, speaking at a pre-match news conference, Atletico head coach Simeone was more inclined to focus on his own enviable batch of talent.

"He made a decision to change and has picked a big challenge in going to Juventus," Simeone said.

"But we're thinking instead about [Antoine] Griezmann, [Alvaro] Morata, [Diego] Costa, Koke, Saul [Niguez]...

"They are excited and very keen to play a good game.

"I feel excited about being in the Champions League, which is such a nice competition, against an opponent as powerful as this.

"After not making it this far last year, we want to grow as a club and a team."

Atleti made the most of dropping down to the Europa League after last season's group stages, going on to win Europe's secondary club competition.

They were beaten in the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals by Madrid, in extra time and on penalties respectively.

Juventus have also endured similar near misses in the modern era, coming up short in the 2015 and 2017 showpieces.

"This is the last 16 and there's no trophy at this stage," Simeone said.

"We face a powerful and strong opponent and a coach who has been at his club for many years, the same as is the case here.

"They have players of great quality and status. We have tools as well to take the game where we want to.

"Both these teams have a 50 percent chance. Neither side has a greater advantage than the other."

Diego Costa is not ready to play 90 minutes, according to Simeone, having recently returned from foot surgery, while Koke (thigh) will be assessed.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is well aware having Cristiano Ronaldo gives his team an advantage in the Champions League, but he warned they are not obliged to win it simply because the Portugal great plays for them.

Ronaldo made the shock switch from Real Madrid to Juve in July having won the Champions League three times in a row.

The 34-year-old has shown no sign of letting up since departing LaLiga either, scoring 19 times in 24 Serie A matches, swiftly adapting to the rigours of Italian football.

For many, the signing of Ronaldo instantly made Juve favourites for the 2018-19 Champions League, particularly given they made it as far as the final in two of the past four seasons.

Allegri recognised Ronaldo's presence does give Juve a helping hand, but he also had a word of caution for the squad as they prepare to face Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano in the first leg of their last-16 clash on Wednesday.

"It is not a question of obligation," Allegri told reporters in his pre-match news conference. "The Champions League is a goal.

"You need to play well and be lucky. Having Ronaldo is definitely an advantage, but it is the team that has to play important games.

"Ronaldo is the best in the world, and you have more chances to win it with him, but you do not win automatically."

Allegri is also mindful of the threat posed by Atletico, who themselves have reached two Champions League finals in five years, while he spoke highly of the job Diego Simeone has done at the club.

"The Champions League has always been a goal for Juventus, and it will be an important match [on Wednesday], as all the knockout stages played in the last few years have been," Allegri added.

"We have had high-level Champions League campaigns, but Atletico is an organised team and make their defensive platform their strength.

"I congratulate Simeone - he did, and is doing, an extraordinary job."

Cristiano Ronaldo will get reacquainted with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday for the first time since leaving their bitter rivals Real Madrid for Juventus, having boasted a fine record in derby clashes.

Atletico host Juve in the first leg of the Champions League's round of 16 and they are braced to face a familiar foe in the Portugal great.

Ronaldo was a regular rival of Atletico's after moving to LaLiga from Manchester United in 2009, and he went on to consistently be a nuisance.

He was on the winning side in his first eight Madrid derbies, before Atletico began to enjoy something of a resurgence and assert themselves in both LaLiga and the Champions League.

However, Madrid still generally got the better of them when it mattered and Ronaldo often played a significant role.

His form has shown no sign of letting up since moving to Serie A, scoring 19 goals in 24 appearances, and he will no doubt be expecting to continue his fine record against Atletico in their upcoming clashes.

Using Opta data, Omnisport takes a closer look at the five-time Ballon d'Or-winner's history against these opponents.

 

22  Ronaldo's overall haul of 22 goals against Atletico during his time in Spain makes him the Madrid derby's all-time top scorer. Only against Sevilla (27) and Getafe (23) has he scored more often.

10 –  Ten of those 22 goals were scored away from home. Only on trips to Sevilla and Barcelona (12) has Ronaldo been more prolific in front of goal.

8 – Ronaldo has taken more penalties against Atletico than any other side, and he has scored every single one of them.

3 – The 34-year-old has three hat-tricks against Atletico, with his most recent coming in May 2017's Champions League semi-final at the Santiago Bernabeu.

18  – No player has netted more often against Atleti during Diego Simeone's celebrated tenure than Ronaldo, whose 18 goals have come across 25 derbies.

5 –  Ronaldo has also chipped in with five assists to further punish Atletico from 10 clear chances created. He had better assist hauls against only Malaga, Espnayol (nine apiece), Levante (eight) and Athletic Bilbao (seven) in Spanish football.

19 – Only three of Ronaldo's 22 goals against Atletico were not with his right foot. All of the remaining trio were headers.

6 – Ronaldo has faced Atletico six times in the Champions League. His solitary defeat in those games (2-1 on May 10, 2017) had no bearing on the end result, as Madrid had won the first leg 3-0 thanks to his hat-trick.

Diego Costa's return from injury means Atletico Madrid could use the striker with Alvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann in a front three, says Diego Simeone.

Costa came off the bench after 10 weeks out with a foot injury as Atletico won 1-0 at his old club Rayo Vallecano to move back up to second in LaLiga on Saturday.

Morata's arrival from Chelsea in the January transfer window has boosted Simeone's attacking options, but it was Greizmann who came up with a second-half winner.

The striker has moved ahead of Fernando Torres to become the fifth top scorer in Atletico's history on 130 strikes, having hit the winner in three consecutive defeats of Rayo.

Simeone used Greizmann and Thomas Lemar as wingers when Costa was introduced as a central partner for Morata, but he plans to field the three strikers as a trio.

"I love it, but it needs time, work, extraordinary physical condition of the three," the coach, who signed a new contract this week, told a news conference. 

"I hope that at some point we can use it with more time. Lemar's entry gave us more speed and dynamism."

Costa needed surgery to resolve a longstanding foot injury and Simeone was delighted to welcome the striker back to action for the first time since the start of December.

"I see him very strong, it was not easy to enter the game," he said.

"He joined the team very well, he worked very well defensively and that made me very happy, they fear him and that strengthens us as a team. He takes the game forward.

"Costa gave Morata more chances to feel more free and comfortable, and as always, Griezmann, who is the important player we have, taking advantage of everything that can happen in front of him."

Simeone further hailed Griezmann, who has scored eight goals in six appearances against Rayo and took his LaLiga tally for the season to 12.

"Griezmann is an extraordinary player who adapts to all the needs of the team," Simeone added.

"He has come as an inside player on the left and he has finished playing everywhere, he is a fundamental player and he is in a brilliant moment."

Diego Costa was thrilled to come back from 10 weeks out in Atletico Madrid's derby win at his old club Rayo Vallecano.

Costa was in Atletico's squad for the first time since the start of December after undergoing surgery on a foot injury.

The striker came off the bench before Antoine Griezmann's deflected volley in the 74th minute saw Atletico bounce back from successive LaLiga losses to move back up to second in the table.

Costa's return is a timely boost for Atletico ahead of Juventus visiting the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.

And Costa, who scored 10 LaLiga goals in 16 games on loan at Rayo to help them stay up in the 2011-12 season, was glad to be on the pitch again after a lengthy layoff.

"When a player doesn't play it's tough," Costa said in a post-match interview. 

"I'm very happy to be back and happy to be back here at Vallecas where I have happy memories. Happy to return with a win and let's see if we can keep it going.

"We know here Rayo press hard and make it hard for teams, the dimensions of the pitch help them. You're obligated to give everything if you want to take away the three points. 

"We got the win after two defeats and we've done it against a good side, one that will stay in LaLiga for another year, I'm sure of that.

"We were playing well and we had the game under control. We weren't worried."

Atletico were grateful to goalkeeper Jan Oblak for six saves, including an added-time stop from Abdoulaye Ba's header.

Raul de Tomas was among the players denied by Oblak and the Rayo striker was left frustrated by his side's third straight LaLiga loss, which left them still in the relegation zone.

"It's sad as we played a great game and we deserved at least a point," he said. "But they were comfortable with the way they played, nobody dominated and it came down to who scored. The got the goal and they take the three points. 

"All the games are important and we have to start thinking week by week. We have fewer games to save ourselves and we have to win in front of our own fans. But we have to think about the game at Getafe."

Antoine Griezmann earned Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win against derby rivals Rayo Vallecano for the third consecutive time in this fixture, moving Diego Simeone's side back up to second place in LaLiga.

Atletico had lost their past two LaLiga games, including a derby defeat at home to Real Madrid last weekend, and they gave another below-par performance at Vallecas on Saturday.

Rayo, who remain in LaLiga's relegation zone after a third straight loss, had the better chances with Adrian Embarba and Raul de Tomas calling Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak into action.

But Atletico marked Simeone's new contract with three points after Griezmann's 74th-minute volley deflected in to give the striker his eighth goal in his past six appearances against Rayo.

Saul Niguez headed off target from Griezmann's cross in the second minute but the first big chance fell to Rayo with Embarba unable to beat Jan Oblak after being sent by De Tomas.

Atleti were indebted to Oblak for an even better save in the 34th minute, the goalkeeper twisting to deny Embarba after another incisive De Tomas pass.

Simeone sent on Costa for his first appearance since the start of December as Atletico fielded the fit-again striker with Griezmann, Alvaro Morata and Thomas Lemar across the front.

But Rayo continued to threaten with Oblak quick off his line to deny De Tomas after he ran on to a sensational long ball from Alejandro Galvez.

De Tomas had a weak penalty appeal turned down after a challenge from Jose Gimenez and Atletico finally broke the deadlock in the 74th minute.

Morata won the ball in the box and Griezmann pounced on the loose ball with goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski beaten by a decisive deflection on the match-winning strike.

Rayo had one big chance to claim a deserved point in added time but Oblak held on to Abdoulaye Ba's header.


What does it mean? Simeone's side back on track

Simeone was at risk of losing three consecutive league games for the first time in seven and a half years in charge, which would have been an inauspicious way to celebrate signing a new contract.

But Griezmann came up with a goal that moves his side within four points of league leaders Barcelona, although Ernesto Valverde's men are at home to Real Valladolid later in the day.

Diego Costa is back in the Atletico Madrid squad for the first time in over two months after recovering from a foot injury.

Costa last played for Atletico at the start of December and needed surgery to resolve the issue, but he is on the bench for Saturday's derby at Rayo Vallecano.

The Brazil-born Spain international had been targeted for a return in time for next week's last-16 Champions League tie against Juventus, with the first leg played on Wednesday at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Alvaro Morata partners Antoine Griezmann in attack with Vitolo and Angel Correa providing width for Diego Simeone's side, whose defeat at home to rivals Real Madrid last time out made it successive LaLiga losses.

Atletico captain Diego Godin starts on his 33th birthday but the Rojiblancos are still without injured World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez.

Simeone's side would move within four points of LaLiga's summit with a win, although leaders Barcelona are at home to Real Valladolid later in the day.

Diego Simeone has signed a new contract with Atletico Madrid that will see him complete a decade in charge of the club.

The contract ties the Argentinian to Atleti until 2022 and extends a relationship that has brought great success to the LaLiga club.

From a pair of Europa League victories to a shock Spanish top-flight triumph in 2013-14, Simeone has turned Atletico into consistent challengers in all competitions.

As Rojiblancos fans look forward to three more years of Simeone's leadership, we take a look back at some of his best moments in the role.

EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL 2012

Simeone did not take long to collect his first piece of silverware after replacing Gregorio Manzano in the December of the 2011-12 campaign, winning the Europa League later that season. Following victories over Lazio, Besiktas and Hannover in the knockout stages, the semi-final and final were all-Spanish affairs. A 5-2 aggregate victory over Valencia in the last four sealed Atleti's place in the final in Bucharest, where Radamel Falcao scored twice in a 3-0 win against Athletic Bilbao.

COPA DEL REY FINAL 2013

The 2012-13 season kicked off with a UEFA Super Cup victory over Chelsea and saw Atleti achieve their best league finish for 17 years, ending the campaign in third. But the highlight of the season came as the club ended a 21-year wait for glory in the Copa del Rey. After falling behind to a Cristiano Ronaldo goal against local rivals Real Madrid, Diego Costa forced extra time and Miranda netted in the additional period to leave Atletico lifting the cup at the Santiago Bernabeu.

LALIGA 2013-14

Atletico had not won LaLiga since 1996 but, after a closely fought campaign between themselves, Barcelona and Madrid, the title race came down to a clash with the Catalans on the final weekend. Simeone's men headed to Camp Nou with a three-point advantage over Barca at the summit but fell behind to an Alexis Sanchez goal in the first half that sent the home side top. Diego Godin headed in from a corner four minutes into the second half to clinch a 10th league crown for Atleti.

EL DERBI

The triumphs of previous seasons saw Atletico earn a reputation for enjoying some of their biggest successes on enemy territory and it has been a similar story in their LaLiga derby clashes with Madrid during Simeone's reign. Atleti have not lost in the league at the Bernabeu since December 2012, winning two and drawing four of those matches.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINALS

Alongisde Atletico's league triumph in 2013-14 they embarked on a surprise run to the Champions League final, knocking out AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea along the way, but they suffered a 4-1 defeat to Madrid in the Lisbon decider. Simeone's team would have another bite at Champions League glory two years later, with Barcelona and Bayern Munich their respective quarter and semi-final victims, only to come up against Los Blancos in the final once more and lose on penalties at San Siro.

EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL 2018

Simeone has since laid his hands on more European silverware in the shape of a second Europa League victory of his tenure. Opponents Marseille lost star man Dimitri Payet to injury early in Lyon and Atleti went on to claim a comfortable 3-0 victory, thanks to a brace from Antoine Griezmann and a late strike from Gabi.

Diego Simeone pledged his hard work will continue after agreeing to extend his Atletico Madrid contract.

Simeone was reportedly ready to commit his future to the club last year and the news of his fresh deal to 2022 was confirmed on Thursday.

The Argentine has been in charge at Atletico since 2011 and indicated he is not seeking to go anywhere else, despite being regularly linked with former club Inter.

"We are looking forward to a future with great enthusiasm and many challenges," Simeone told the club's website. 

"I see work, I see people involved to continue growing, I see hope, I see youth that can make us progress and I know that the four legs of the table remain firm as we have been.

"We will continue on the same line, fans, players, leaders and coaches. This is a very great strength that we have had until today and we are waiting from now on.

"The road has to continue as when we started that night in Malaga, thinking only of Malaga, and now... [next opponents] Rayo Vallecano."

After August's UEFA Super Cup triumph over rivals Real Madrid, Simeone became the most successful head coach in Atletico's history.

During his stay, he has led the capital outfit to seven titles including beating out Madrid and Barcelona to top the LaLiga table in 2013-14.

Diego Simeone has signed a new contract that will keep him at Atletico Madrid until 2022, the LaLiga club have announced.

Simeone's old deal was set to expire in 2020 but he has agreed new terms that reportedly makes him Atletico's top earner, with a salary higher even than that of star forward Antoine Griezmann.

The news comes after he extended his deal by two years in September 2017, having earlier agreed to reduce the length of his contract not long after Atletico's defeat in the 2016 Champions League final.

The Argentine is the most successful head coach in Atletico history, having led the club to seven titles during his seven-year stay.

August's UEFA Super Cup triumph over rivals Real Madrid added to their previous success in the competition in 2012, as well as a brace of Europa League titles, one Copa del Rey and a Supercopa de Espana.

Simeone's top achievement at the club remains the 2013-14 LaLiga title and his side are in the hunt to challenge champions Barcelona again this season.

Diego Simeone has signed a new contract that will keep him at Atletico Madrid until 2022, the LaLiga club have announced.

Simeone's old deal was set to expire in 2020 but he has agreed new terms that reportedly makes him Atletico's top earner, with a salary higher even than that of star forward Antoine Griezmann.

The news comes after he extended his deal by two years in September 2017, having earlier agreed to reduce the length of his contract not long after Atletico's defeat in the 2016 Champions League final.

The Argentine is the most successful head coach in Atletico history, having led the club to seven titles during his seven-year stay.

August's UEFA Super Cup triumph over rivals Real Madrid added to their previous success in the competition in 2012, as well as a brace of Europa League titles, one Copa del Rey and a Supercopa de Espana.

Simeone's top achievement at the club remains the 2013-14 LaLiga title and his side are in the hunt to challenge champions Barcelona again this season.

Atletico Madrid have confirmed defender Lucas Hernandez sustained a knee injury in the derby defeat to Real Madrid - but there was good news for the club concerning Diego Costa's comeback.

After suffering discomfort in the 3-1 loss at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, Lucas - who played the entire game - has been diagnosed with a sprain in the medial side of the right knee.

The France international - heavily linked with Bayern Munich in the January transfer window - damaged the medial collateral ligament in the same knee in December, though Atletico have not said how long the defender will be out of action following the latest setback.

Atletico travel to Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga action at the weekend before hosting Juventus next Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

The Spanish club said last month they hoped Costa would be back in time to feature against Juve, having undergone surgery on a foot injury late in 2018.

The striker was pictured in training with his team-mates on Tuesday, raising hopes he may be in contention to face the Serie A champions.

Defender Stefan Savic - who suffered a grade two hamstring tear in the 1-0 win over Levante on January 13 - was also back on duty with Diego Simeone's squad.

When a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid overcame Liverpool 3-1 in last season's Champions League final, the triumph merely scratched the surface of LaLiga's recent dominance in Europe's premier club competition.

Having become the first team in the Champions League era to retain the title against Juventus in Cardiff in 2017, head coach Zinedine Zidane made it three in a row before riding off into the sunset.

Madrid have won four out of five, their bitter rivals Barcelona interrupting the streak in 2015. Indeed, Liverpool and Juventus proved to be the only interlopers on a Spanish party during this period – Atletico Madrid were left in anguish by their city rivals in 2014 and 2016.

Five wins out of five and seven of the previous 10 finalists paints a picture of total domination that felt unlikely after Bayern Munich beat Borussia Dortmund in an all-Bundesliga affair at Wembley in 2013.

That experience shows the folly of declaring the beginning and end of eras, but LaLiga's grip on continental supremacy appears somewhat looser as this season's knockout rounds get underway.

No Zidane, no Ronaldo = no party?

That Madrid's struggles post-Kiev seemed, to an extent, so inevitable is a damning indictment of president Florentino Perez and the Bernabeu hierarchy.

Zidane caught them off guard – Madrid head coaches are habitually pushed rather than jumping on their own terms – but the pursuit of Julen Lopetegui was an unseemly mess that counted torpedoing Spain's World Cup campaign among its collateral.

A chequebook that remained tightly bound even after Cristiano Ronaldo's departure to Juventus gave an indication of why Los Blancos were so hasty in wrapping up the Lopetegui deal. They were not presenting a strong hand to any incoming coach.

Being able to rely on an all-time great forward and the inspiration of a club hero in the dressing room had papered over plenty of ills and Lopetegui trudged out of his second dream job in a matter of months following a 5-1 hammering in El Clasico.

Messi carrying Barcelona

Barcelona accomplished that October humiliation of their bitter foes without a sidelined Lionel Messi as Luis Suarez produced a bravura display.

However, recent weeks have added weight to claims of Messidependencia. The mercurial Argentinian was rested for Copa del Rey ties at Levante and Sevilla and had to be recalled to pull around first-leg defeats. He came off the bench in last week's 1-1 semi final draw at home to Madrid despite injury fears.

Those losses and a 2-2 LaLiga draw against Valencia pointed to unaddressed defensive vulnerabilities, exacerbated by Ernesto Valverde's squad rotation – a necessity of the modern game, but the drop-off when the Barca boss rests weary legs is often stark.

Sunday's stalemate at Athletic Bilbao made it three winless games across all competitions, while uncertainty over whether Valverde will stay beyond the end of this season might count against players going the extra mile..

Atletico fluffing their lines

The thrill of Atletico's 2013-14 LaLiga triumph and their Champions League final appearances was how against the odds it all felt.

Diego Simeone's side cannot be so easily cast in that role this time around, given they mark a contrast to the sense of drift witnessed at their city rivals and Barca.

After tying star forward Antoine Griezmann down to a long-term contract, Simeone was reportedly set to follow suit at the end of last year. What he has built in the shadow of two giants is, by any measure, incredible.

But it feels reasonable to ask whether Atleti could be doing more.

Barcelona have left the door ajar in LaLiga, failing to win eight matches this term. But Atleti have now dropped points 11 times and find themselves behind Madrid after Saturday's sapping 3-1 defeat on their own patch in El Derbi.

PSG, Juventus, Manchester City – can anyone take advantage?

If those flaws paint an unconvincing picture for Atletico, Barcelona and Real Madrid, the lack of a solid counter-argument from Europe's pretenders to the throne gives cause for encouragement.

Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham are embroiled in a fierce and sapping battle for the Premier League title, which has magnified flaws with in each excellent team. All face Bundesliga opposition this month and must be wary of becoming over-stretched.

The other Premier League participant, Manchester United, are revelling in a post-Jose Mourinho feelgood factor under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and represent an unappetising prospect for a Neymar-less Paris Saint-Germain, who are still to bring their Ligue 1 dominance to bear on the European stage.

Juventus' move for Ronaldo was the clearest statement yet of their determination to take the final step – an experienced side hitting the sort of peak Bayern Munich now have in their rear view mirror.

The Old Lady's showdown with Atleti is the pick of the last 16 ties and could prove a bellwether when it comes to assessing LaLiga's current strength.

Following a home loss to Real Sociedad at the start of the year, Madrid have rediscovered the winning feeling, something deeply ingrained in their muscle memory where the big trophy is concerned.

Interim boss Santiago Solari came through this week's clashes against Barcelona and Atletico intact, with a reputation enhanced and confidence blossoming within his squad. Ajax are up next, having lost two of their past three Eredivisie outings. It couldn't happen again, could it?

Meanwhile, focusing upon Barca without Messi ignores the terrifying prospect for opponents when he is in full flight.

LaLiga's heavyweights might not swagger as they once did, but the rest will have to walk taller than before to knock them off their stride.  

Diego Simeone refused to blame controversial VAR decisions for Atletico Madrid's 3-1 derby defeat to Real Madrid on Saturday.

Los Blancos claimed their first ever win over Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano, as Casemiro, Sergio Ramos and Gareth Bale got the goals to move them up to second, above their rivals.

Antoine Griezmann initially cancelled out Casemiro's opener, but Madrid ultimately had too much for their hosts and were good value for the win.

However, Atletico were convinced Jose Gimenez fouled Vinicius Junior just outside the box for Ramos' penalty, before another VAR decision saw Atletico miss out on a spot-kick of their own when Alvaro Morata went over after a slight collision in the box with Casemiro.

Simeone insists the technology was not to blame, though, accepting the better team won.

"I do not usually talk about the VAR," Simeone told reporters. "It will clearly improve for the good of everyone. I absolutely do not believe that we have lost because of VAR.

"It was a tough hard game in which they were better than us, more forceful. They played a very good game and we congratulate them."

Atletico players may feel slightly different to Simeone regarding the impact of VAR, but he feels he cannot answer for them.

"The action of the penalty [that was not given for Atletico] is an important possibility," he said. "But I am not in the head of the players, it is a question for them.

"We are used to the decisions of the World Cup, cutting short your celebrations of a goal and not letting you enjoy it. The players are prepared for that."

Atletico Madrid welcomed back Diego Godin and Saul Niguez for the derby showdown with Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano, with Sergio Reguilon preferred to Marcelo at left-back for the visitors.

Influential captain Godin returns to the heart of Diego Simeone's defence as expected after sitting out last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Real Betis with a thigh injury.

Saul was also absent last time out and has missed three of Atleti's previous four LaLiga matches through a combination of injury and suspension.

He partners Thomas Partey in central midfield, while Santiago Solari has opted for 22-year-old Reguilon at full-back for Madrid.

Marcelo's performances this season have become a source of discontent for the Santiago Bernabeu faithful and he struggled against Barcelona winger Malcom during Wednesday's 1-1 Clasico draw in the Copa del Rey semi-final first leg.

Gareth Bale has to be content with a place on the bench once more, with Karim Benzema flanked by Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior in the front three, while Casemiro replaces the injured Marcos Llorente at the base of Solari's midfield.

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