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Koke: Alonso absence could be crucial

Luis Figo is backing Real Madrid to win their tenth UEFA Champions League when they face neighbours Atletico in Saturday's final, even if he admits that's because he's biased.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke has said the absence of Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso could be a crucial factor in Saturday's Champions League final.

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Midfielder Alonso is suspended for the game in Lisbon after being booked for a foul on Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger in the semifinal second leg -- a challenge the Spain international did not have to make, given that his side were 4-0 ahead on aggregate at the time.

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti has no ready-made replacement for Alonso in his squad, with Germany international Sami Khedira having only recently returned after six months out with a knee injury.

Asier Illarramendi, 24, is most likely to start despite having struggled in some big games this season. He was withdrawn at half-time by Ancelotti in September's La Liga derbi defeat against Atletico and the 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League quarterfinal second leg.

And Illarramendi's former Spain U-21 teammate Koke told AS: "They [Real] have very few weak points. But the absence of Xabi Alonso is going to be very important. In the centre of the pitch, Atletico must be strong to take the game."


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