Pitchside

Eurosport Roundtable: Who will be the ‘hero’ of Lisbon?

Pitchside

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When Real and Atletico set up an all-Madrid Champions League final earlier this month, Roundtable picked a winner right there and then on the spot.

[EUROSPORT ROUNDTABLE: WHO'LL WIN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL?]

The Roundtable Verdict narrowly fell in Real Madrid's favour. But now we have a different question for the team.

After all, many finals tend to have one particular 'hero'. Last year's was Arjen Robben. Two years ago? Didier Drogba. When Real secured European Cup #9 some 12 years ago, it was undoubtedly Zinedine Zidane.

So... who will take that title when all is said and done in Lisbon on Saturday night?

Here's what the writing staff think. And, as ever, add your own answers at the bottom via the comments section.

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Tom Adams (Twitter: @tomEurosport):

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Gareth Bale Ronaldo is the obvious choice here but Bale’s contribution this season cannot be overlooked. He has scored more goals than Michael Owen did in his one season in Madrid and has the same amount of assists that David Beckham managed in his first two. He also scored the winning goal in the Copa del Rey final and is always capable of settling a match single-handedly. If Ronaldo is struggling with injury, then Bale will step up to the mark and justify his world record fee.

Liam Happe (Twitter: @liamhappe):

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Karim Benzema – I think we should nickname Benzema ‘The British licence fee payer’, as he’s the part of the BBC who is constantly taken for granted. While the debate rages on as to whether it will be Bale or Ronaldo who secures La Decima for Real (poor Atletico – though I’m sure they are relishing being overlooked as they were in the title race at first) I’ve a sneaking suspicion it will be the French striker whose name is officially tagged on what we looked back upon in recent years as the ‘Arjen Robben/Didier Drogba’ of the final. That said, chances are the papers will nonetheless focus more on Bale/Ronaldo’s assist for said goal, thus justifying Benzema’s decision to finally leave the Bernabeu for real this time in the summer and join a club who’ll appreciate his contributions more.

Desmond Kane (Twitter isn't anywhere near ready for a Des Kane account):

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Cristiano Ronaldo – Fairly obvious, but what is wrong with being obvious? It hasn’t hindered Cristiano in front of goal during Madrid’s run to their first Champions League final since 2002. Nothing would be more fitting than Portugal’s world player of the year helping to end his club’s 12-year wait for the Champions League in Lisbon, the city where he highlighted his delectable ball skills as a teenager with Sporting. And all this could happen before the World Cup finals. As an hors d'oeuvre, this Madrid derby could taste fairly delicious. It is all there in front of Cristiano. In every sense.

Dan Quarrell (Twitter: @Dan_Eurosport):

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Gareth Bale – Cristiano Ronaldo will attract much of the attention from Diego Simeone’s side, but that could well leave plenty of space for Gareth Bale’s searing pace to take serious effect, particularly on the counter attack. Bale, will be the first British player to be present in a Champions League final for a foreign club since Owen Hargreaves for Bayern Munich in 2001 and it will be hugely inspiring to see the Welshman perform on the very biggest stage. He may have spent the past week talking of how Ronaldo is his role model, but he does not lack any confidence in his ability to be the game changer for Real when they need it most. While Ronaldo occupies defenders and looks to seize his opportunity for glory, I predict it will be Bale who shines the brightest, exploiting the space left for him. It would be typical of Carlo Ancelotti to find an advantage in Ronaldo being closely marked, and Bale is the perfect attacking outlet for a different strategy.

Toby Keel (Currently staging a one-man war against social media):

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Iker Casillas - He's been marginalised at Real Madrid in the last couple of seasons, but remains one of the best goalies in the world – he went just under 1000 minutes without conceding a goal this season as Real's cup specialist keeper, despite having lost his place in the Liga starting line-up. And given that there's been a cigarette paper between the top three teams in Spain this season, it's a match that could easily be decided by a couple of key saves – whether that's in 90 mintues, 120, or in a penalty shoot-out. If it goes that far then who else will be the hero except the Man Who Has Won Everything? He won his first Champions League final 14 years ago, four days after his 19th birthday; his second was only a couple of years later; it's high time he had his third.

Sean Fay (Twitter: @Sean_Fay):

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Thibaut Courtois - If Cristiano Ronaldo is fully fit I back Real Madrid to win. We are told that is the case and if so then the Real Madrid medical team deserve huge credit. A lot of big matches can be won behind the scenes and this could be the case here. However, Ronaldo was still taking training sessions by himself this week, so I’m sorry, but I can’t help but be a bit sceptical about his condition. That gives Atletico a chance and if they are going to win, they are going need a big performance from their goalkeeper. If Atletico triumph I can see it being by a 1-0 scoreline or maybe even on penalties. It might just be two or three moments in the game, but Real have so many weapons that you feel the young Belgian will need to make a couple of outstanding saves to get them into a winning position. It is a task he’s more than capable of completing.

Reda Maher (Twitter: @Reda_Eurosport):

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Diego Simeone - I swear he is blessed by the same football god that saw Jose Mourinho make the leap from excellence to greatness that season Porto won the Champions League. I have a sneaky suspicion Ronaldo will be half fit, and am - without reason or foundation - backing Atleti to spring another shock, with or without Diego Costa.

Ben Snowball (Twitter: @BenSnowball):

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Luka Modric - Chances are, Atletico have a comprehensive plan to starve £165 million duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale of the ball. It’s up to Modric to quell the pair’s frustration and act as mediator between defence and attack. The Croatian is the ultimate wriggler, seemingly able to fend off numerous challenges before casually spraying an inch-perfect pass to a colleague. With Atletico renowned for a high-pressing game, those attributes will prove vital as Real seek to launch lightning counter-attacks and catch their neighbours unawares. Modric sparked in the semi-final demolition of Bayern and will star again in Lisbon – acting as puppeteer and bagging a rare goal en route to that elusive Decima.

Marcus Foley (Twitter: @mmjfoley):

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Diego Simeone - Put simply, what he has done with this Atleti team is nothing short of heroic. Yes, one player may make a decisive intervention that ensures the European Cup is in his side’s custody for the next year, but the lion’s share of the plaudits must to go the Argentine coach who has coaxed something special out of this squad – who, lest we forget, were languishing in mid-table mediocrity when he took charge in 2011. What makes it all the more remarkable is the fact that they have managed to secure the league title too whilst hamstrung by crippling debt. Of course, if a Ronaldo, Bale or Benzema scores the goal that secures ‘La Decima’ then the adjectives will start to fly but still, in this observer’s opinion, that pales into insignificance when measured alongside the achievements of Simeone.

ROUNDTABLE VERDICT

Gareth Bale - 2 votes

Diego Simeone - 2 votes

Cristiano Ronaldo - 1 vote

Thibaut Courtois - 1 vote

Karim Benzema - 1 vote

Iker Casillas - 1 vote

Luca Modric - 1 vote

ROUNDTABLE SUMMARY

It's a close one this time around, but beneath the surface of the actual picks there is a story to be told. Real Madrid representatives earned more votes in total which underscores their status as favourites, but while the nature of their picks strongly focuses on the talismanic 'BBC' strike force, Atletico's support is head by a strong belief that coach Diego Simeone will be the man in the headlines when all is said and done. Perhaps it really will be the stars of Real against the team ethic and amazing leadership of the former Argentine international.

More on the Champions League final

[EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT REAL v ATLETICO]

[WHICH TEAM HAS THE BEST PLAYERS?]

[FIVE KEY BATTLES IN THE 2014 FINAL]

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