May 23, 2014, 9:54 AM EDT
Barely 24 hours remain before the UEFA Champions League final kicks off in Lisbon, Portugal – but we still don’t know whether two of its biggest stars will take the field. Both Cristiano Ronaldo, for Real Madrid, and Diego Costa, for Atlético, face a race against time to be fit for one of the year’s biggest events.
Last weekend, Carlo Ancelotti assured fans that Ronaldo would be fit to play a starring role in the Champions League final. The Real manager insisted keeping the forward out of the final match of the La Liga season was purely precautionary, and he’d certainly be playing in a match that mattered.
Yet Ronaldo’s first appearance at training occurred on Thursday, but, in another precautionary move, his role was limited. But despite the nagging issues, Real’s top scorer is expected to start on Saturday night.
It’s less clear whether Diego Costa will have any role for Atlético. The forward is included in Diego Simone’s 22-man-squad, but after being diagnosed with a hamstring tear, few people expected he’d see the field in Lisbon.
However, Atléti’s top scorer may be ready to play on Saturday. The club sent their star to Belgrade earlier in the week, to receive treatment involving ointment made of horse placenta. Skeptics can chuckle, but Diego Costa was back in training on Thursday.
Neutrals would, of course, love to see both play the majority of the Final. Worries remain, however, over the possibility of more significant injury occurring if they’re rushed back too quickly. And with the World Cup approaching quickly, both Spain and Portugal will be watching nervously, hoping they won’t need to make last-minute adjustments to their plans for Brazil.
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