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Atletico Madrid backed to beat Real in UCL final by Martino and Buffon

Argentina national coach Gerardo Martino and Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon have both said they would like to see Atletico Madrid beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28.

Atletico are aiming for their first Champions League triumph in this year's decider, while Real have already lifted the European Cup on 10 occasions -- most recently two years ago when they beat their local rivals from the Spanish capital 4-1 after extra time.

During his year as Barcelona coach in 2013-14, Martino got the better of Madrid in both La Liga Clasicos, but suffered against Diego Simeone's Atletico side in both the Champions League quarterfinals and a last-day La Liga deciding game.

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Real Madrid wins 5-3 on Penalty Kicks.
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Speaking to ESPN Deportes, Martino said he favoured Atletico in this year's final as he was impressed by how consistently Simeone's side had played over the last four years.

"I don't know who will win the Champions League but I want Atletico Madrid to do it," Martino said. "Atletico are a true reflection of what Simeone was like as a player. It really stands out how Simeone manages to persist with a style of play, keeps it up to date and the players keep up their intensity and conviction.

"It is not easy to do that for four straight years. Success year after year convinces the players that they must not stray from what they are doing."

Buffon has faced both clubs in recent times, with Juve and Atletico progressing from the same Champions League group last season, and the Serie A team then beating Madrid in the semifinals later in the campaign.

The veteran goalkeeper told Spanish news agency EFE that given how close Atletico had been to winning the 2014 final until Sergio Ramos equalised in injury time to force extra time, it would be "justice" should Simeone's side prevail this time.

"If sporting justice exists, Atletico Madrid will win the final," Buffon said. "Two years ago Atletico lost it in an amazing way, with such bad luck, after Ramos' 93rd-minute goal. I really believe that life gives you a chance to get revenge in sport. It will be a difficult ask, as Real Madrid have more experience in these games."

Buffon also told Spanish radio show El Partido de las 12 that while Madrid's pedigree in the competition perhaps made them favourites, Atletico's organisation and tenacity meant they always made it tough for any opponent.

"Real Madrid are more used to playing finals like this, so they are favourites," he said. "Atletico Madrid, with their way of playing, their organisation on the field, their tenacity... for me they are the most difficult team to beat.

"I would not be surprised if Atletico win. I did not like how they lost the last final, they were so unlucky in the end. Atletico will for sure have the knife sharpened and ready -- Madrid will have to sweat a lot to beat them."

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan

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