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Previa CSKA de Moscú - Real Madrid

CSKA-Real Madrid: the champions begin their quest for a third Euroleague final in five years

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NEWS | 17/05/2019 | Edu Bueno (Vitoria)

The two most-decorated teams in Europe lock horns in a repeat of the Belgrade semi-final, which ended with a Whites' win (9:00pm CEST).
On the 20th of May 2018, Real Madrid lifted their tenth European Cup in Belgrade. Today, 362 days on, they are back in the Final Four as they look to get their hands on La Undécima. The first hurdle in Vitoria is enormous: CSKA Moscow, the same opposition they beat in last year's semi-finals (83-92) and one who they will be looking to get the better of once again and make it to their nineteenth European Cup final, a third in the last five years following 2015 and 2018.

This year's second finalist will come from the heavyweight clash between the kings of the competition, with 17 titles between them (10 for the madridistas and 7 for the Muscovites). The first will be a Turkish side: either Fenerbahçe or Efes. Real Madrid have won four of the six Final Four semi-finals in which they have been involved: twice against Barcelona (2013 and 2014), once against Fenerbahçe (2015) and last year's outing against the Russians. For CSKA, it's a sixteenth Final Four appearance in 17 years, eighth in a row, although they only lifted the trophy in 2016. They'll be keen for revenge.

Real Madrid have won 4 of the 6 semi-finals they have played.

Real Madrid finished third in the Regular Season (22-8) and arrive in Vitoria following an immaculate 3-0 win over Panathinaikos in the play-off. Their opposition ended up second but needed a fourth game to get past Baskonia and into the Final Four. Such evenly matched games are decided by the tiniest of details: intensity, rebound, defense… The reigning European champions are the highest-rated team in the Euroleague, average a point less than CSKA but have conceded two less. The duel extends right to the dugouts - Laso is in his sixth Final Four in eight years, while Itoudis is enjoying his fifth in a row.

All-star cast
Real Madrid must demonstrate what a team they are, just as they have done for so long now, with every player capable of coming to the fore at any given moment. They've got October's MVP, Tavares, in their ranks, who is also the Euroleague's best defender; alongside him is the MVP for April: Campazzo, an in-form Taylor, Rudy, Ayón, Randolph… and of course, Sergio Llull. The point guard is the leading active points-scorer and assister left in the Final Four. The other end of the court is hardly lacking in talent either. De Colo and Sergio Rodríguez lead an experienced group of hugely versatile players, with physical prowess and incredible quality including Higgins, Clyburn, Hines and company. Let the Undécima challenge begin.