Gareth Bale says Real Madrid’s players must work hard to keep their emotions in check against fierce foes Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.
The local rivals from the Spanish capital met in the decider of UEFA’s elite club competition in 2014, Madrid equalising in the 93rd minute before running out 4-1 winners after extra time.
Referee Bjorn Kuipers handed out 12 yellow cards in Lisbon, seven of them to Diego Simeone’s men and five to los Blancos, with both teams perhaps lucky to finish the game with a full complement of players.
And Bale knows cool heads will go a long way to determining the outcome of the latest continental decider between the neighbours at Milan’s San Siro this weekend.
“The key factor [is] to keep your emotions in [check],” he said.
“If you let your emotions run away with you it can really damage you and your game. It’s important to focus on the football.”
Simeone has worked wonders to orchestrate another competitive season from Atletico, despite continually losing key players from the Vicente Calderon.
The Rojiblancos narrowly missed out on the Liga title in 2015-16, finishing behind Madrid and champions Barcelona, prompting Bale to pay tribute to their fighting spirit.
“I’m not sure if they’re stronger or not [than in the 2013-14 final] but what we know is they’re a very good team and they’re very well organised,” he said.
“We know the final is going to be a very difficult game but we’ll be preparing well.”
A campaign which got off to a stuttering start and saw coach Rafael Benitez replaced by Zinedine Zidane could yet end with Madrid claiming the European title for the 11th time, something Bale is determined to achieve after tasting the ultimate success under Carlo Ancelotti two years ago.
“It’s been an up-and-down season but we can take a lot of positives from it … the most important thing is the team gets the victory and we lift the Champions League trophy,” he said.
“It’s great to be in another final. Everyone’s worked very hard to get there and we’re excited to have the opportunity to have the chance to lift the trophy again. Hopefully we can take the opportunity and win the game.”