Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado hopes the power of Los Blancos’ intimidating “history” will prove the difference in Lisbon.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico are riding the crest of a wave ahead of the Lisbon showpiece after stunning heavyweights Real and Barcelona to lift the La Liga title for the first time in 18 years.
For Salgado – who cut a fearsome figure at right-back for a decade at the Bernabeu – the situation is similar to when his own side lifted Europe’s premier club competition with victory against fellow Spaniards Valencia in 2000.
That season Real finished two points and two places behind Valencia in La Liga, but made light of the difference with a convincing 3-0 victory in Paris.
Salgado – who also won the trophy two years later in Glasgow with a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen – believes the fact Real are in pursuit of a landmark 10th European Cup triumph could influence proceedings this weekend against their opponents.
“In 2000, it was said in the approach of the game that the favourites were Valencia as they were having an amazing year,” the 38-year-old said. “They were really fit and very strong, but when we started to play the final it was easier than we thought.
“The Real Madrid shirt means a lot, with the badge and the history. Hopefully Real can put everything in and we can win it. In the final, we hopefully can see that history count.”
Real and Atletico have enjoyed contrasting fortunes. The latter’s domestic championship this term was just their 10th, a number that pales into insignificance compared to Real’s 32.
This disparity is further magnified in Europe’s elite club competition, with the closest Atletico have got to claiming the European Cup that Los Blancos have won nine times, a replayed final defeat to Bayern Munich 40 years ago.
“When you reach a final it is important to have experience in games like that,” Salgado, who is now director of football at Spanish Soccer Schools in Dubai Sports City, added. “Atletico have not been there since they lost to Bayern. We have to make Real Madrid’s superior experience count.”
Real have been obsessed with securing ‘La Decima’ since beating Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 thanks to Zinedine Zidane’s iconic volley.
Carlo Ancelotti is the first coach to guide Real to the final since then, with the Italian also claiming the Copa del Rey in a productive first season in charge.
But he should be under no illusion that those achievements will make up for defeat to Atletico.
Salgado said: “Real Madrid have already won the Copa del Rey, it is a big trophy, but it is not a trophy Real want the one they are looking for when they start the season. We have to be honest.”