Preview: Real Madrid and Atletico try to leave rivalry aside in CL semis

AP , Monday 1 May 2017

Real Madrid v Atletico
In this Saturday, April 8, 2017 file photo, Atletico Madrid's Diego Godin, left, goes for a header with Real Madrid's Pepe during the La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. The Champions League semifinals begin this week with Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Atletico meeting for the 4th consecutive time in the European competition. (AP)

The city rivalry is enough motivation when Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid meet.

When the stakes include a place in the Champions League final, the rivalry is even more heated.

''I have been fortunate enough to play in 15 derbies and they are all special,'' Real defender Dani Carvajal says. ''But more than a derby, this is the semifinal of the Champions League, and that give us enough motivation to go out there and try to defeat our rival.''

The first leg on Tuesday, hosted by Real at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, will be the fourth between them in recent Champions Leagues. Real advanced every time. It defeated Atletico in the finals of 2014 and in 2016, and in the quarterfinals in 2015.

''We hope the result will be different this time,'' Atletico captain Gabi Fernandez says. ''We have gained experience in this competition and we have improved.''

Real, an 11-time winner, is looking to become the first team to defend the Champions League title since the competition changed to the current format in 1992.

Atletico is trying to win its first title. It also lost the final in 1974, to Bayern Munich.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane dismissed the history.

''For both teams, this has nothing to do with the previous games,'' he says. ''We are extra motivated because it's a semifinal. What happened in the past remains in the past. You can't keep dwelling on it. They are new games now and we will do our best to try to reach the final.''

Zidane also dismisses the notion that Real is the favorite.

''Atletico has been playing very well in the last four or five years and it's only getting better,'' Zidane says. ''They always make things difficult for us.''

The teams drew 1-1 the last time they met in the Spanish league. Real has won three of the last six matches in all competitions, but before that Atletico had won four of the last six.

''The previous games are part of history,'' Atletico defender Diego Godin says. ''Of course, we always try to correct what we did wrong, you can always learn something when you lose. But they are different matches, it's a different scenario, everything has changed.''

The second leg is next week at Atletico's Vicente Calderon Stadium.

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