Atlético Madrid weighing up striker, midfield options for Champions League final

Marco Luzzani

Now that Tiago is healthy and Diego Costa isn't, Diego Simeone has a couple of interesting selection dilemmas for the Champions League final.

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Atlético Madrid's Champions League final starting 11 is slightly easier to guess than their opponent's, with only a couple of positions still looking up for debate. Diego Costa's injury might leave a vacancy up front that wily veteran David Villa and his erratic junior Adrían will battle over, while Mario Suárez will be hoping to upset the odds and win back a starting position in defensive midfield from his rather more experienced teammate Tiago Mendes.

David Villa vs. Adrián

Assuming injury rules Diego Costa out of the final -- he'll face a late fitness test -- Simeone is left with a dilemma of who to play up front. In all likelihood Raúl García will start just off the main central striker -- particularly if Turkish winger Arda Turan recovers in time to play -- but there's still a dilemma over who his strike partner will be. Will it be David Villa or Adrián?

At the moment, it looks likely that the ex-Barcelona striker Villa is the frontrunner after impressing in the title-deciding draw against his former club, as well as having demonstrated a compatibility with García throughout the season. In contrast, García and Adrián is a rather more untested front duo, with Adrián having made two thirds of his appearances off the bench this season. When he has played, he's been disappointingly inconsistent.

Villa, on the other hand, is a man highly familiar with games of this magnitude, and has 13 goals to his name in all competitions this season. Atléti know they'll be able to count on him to take his chances, both on the ground and in the air. His deadly finishing and relative consistency means he'll almost certainly be the man to complement the more physical García in the final.

Tiago Mendes vs. Mario Suárez

The battle for a starting central midfield slot is a little harder to predict, with both Tiago Mendes and Mario Suárez having been used in rotation by Simeone throughout the campaign. However, it's the Portuguese Tiago who has the edge heading in, after playing in all but one of Atléti's last four Champions League matches, as well as the big domestic clash with Barça.

He seems to have earned the trust of Simeone in anchoring the midfield, with Mario Suárez having not played since Atléti's 3-1 at Chelsea almost a month ago. It could simply be that Tiago's experience wins him the starting spot in this match, as technically they're pretty similar players and are perfectly adept at sitting deep and compact, denying their opponents any of the crucial space between defence and midfield.

With both Cristiano Ronaldo and Ángel di María excellent at drifting into this area to devastating effect, the role of Mendes or Suárez will be particularly important., particularly with their midfield partner Gabi a little more ambitious with his positioning and distribution. Unfortunately for Suárez, it's looking likely that simple experience could be the key, giving 33-year-old Mendes a slight edge.

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