The presence of Cristiano Ronaldo and the threat posed by Juve to their Champions League defence has created a one-off show of support from across town.
It is a rare occurrence indeed, but the feeling in the Real Madrid dressing room is that it would be better for Atlético Madrid to eliminate Juventus from the Champions League next month than for Cristiano Ronaldo’s side to go into the draw for the quarter-finals instead of Madrid’s traditional foe.
The presence of their former teammate is one of the primary reasons for this strange state of affairs. Real’s players are only too aware of the danger posed by Ronaldo in the Champions League having seen first-hand the majority of his record 121 goals in the competition and even though the Portuguese has been far from prolific this season, scoring just once in Europe, his ability to turn a knock-out tie is a cause for concern for any club.
Ronaldo would be doubly motivated to put one over on his old side and that adds to the problem. Although he left most of his teammates cordially, the Portuguese was often at odds with the club hierarchy and he would be more than happy to knock his old side out with a vintage performance to remind Florentino Pérez what he is missing.
Real Madrid see Atlético as preferable opponents
That Ronaldo will need to pull one off in Turin is not lost at the Bernabéu: the general feeling is that Atlético will progress after their 2-0 victory in the opening leg and given the historical record between Real their two possible opponents, facing Diego Simeone’s team is seen as the preferable option.
Real only just progressed at Juve’s expense last season, a contentious penalty decision in stoppage time deciding the tie, and the Old Lady – with former Real striker Álvaro Morata doing the damage – knocked them out in 2014-15.
Against Atlético meanwhile, Real have never lost a two-legged knock out tie when facing Simeone’s side and beat their cross-city rivals in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 finals. The most recent meeting between the sides also went Real’s way, a 3-1 Liga victory in the Madrid derby on 9 February.