Atletico Makes UCL Final Twice in Three Years

 

Atletico Madrid Champions League Bayern Munich
Courtesy of the official Facebook page of the UEFA Champions League

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atletico Madrid made the 2014 UEFA Champions League final and lost to Real Madrid by the score of 4-1. Two season later they are right back in the final after defeating Bayern Munich on the away-goal rule in the semifinals.

Antoine Griezmann¬†hit home to respond to Xabi Alonso‘s opening free-kick to end the first half at one apiece. Robert Lewandowski scored the game-winner inside the final 16 minutes, but it was insufficient as Atletico won the opening game 1-0 thanks to Saul Niguez‘s wonder-strike.

Thomas Muller had his first-half penalty thwarted away by keeper Jan Oblak before Fernando Torres was robbed by Manuel Neuer from the spot in the second half.

Bayern Munich played in a 4-1-4-1 before switching at times to the more traditional 4-2-3-1. Creating chances was easy for the German champions, but finishing them against a sturdy Atletico defense and goal keeper proved to be too tough in the end.

Pep Guardiola has now lost in three straight semifinals as coach of Bayern Munich. Ironically, they were all against teams from his nation of Spain: Real Madrid 2014, Barcelona (2015) and now Atletico Madrid (2016). Real and Barca went on to win the title in their respective years, now Atletico can make it a three-peat of teams winning the title after eliminating Bayern in the semis.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone has masterminded his tactical approach to every game his team has played. Sure they lost today, but only on the scoreboard as the one-goal loss was sufficient enough for their place in the final. The coach believes in the 4-4-2 flat with everyone working together on every single play – both defensively and offensively.

One player that truly completed the puzzle this season was Filipe Luis. The Brazilian left back played for Atletico in the 2014 final before playing abroad for Chelsea last season. After his failure to impress and play regular soccer in the EPL, Luis returned home to pick right up where he left off. Along with Gabi Fernandez, Juanfran Torres and Diego Godin, Luis is definitely considered one of the hardest-working veterans of this club.

Two seasons ago, Atletico led 1-0 against Real Madrid all the way into injury-time before Sergio Ramos headed home the equalizer, only disheartening the brave effort by the red and whites that caused them to lose 4-1 after Extra Time.

Since then, Atletico have not lost to Real in La Liga or Copa del Rey action, but did lose 1-0 on aggregate in the UCL quarters last season. Therefore, Real does have the upper hand in Europe, but this will be the final… with revenge on the minds of the losing side in 2014.

After Real Madrid defeated Manchester City in yesterday’s second leg of their respective semifinal, the rematch has been finalized. Come May Saturday May 28, 2016, Atletico Madrid will have their chance at winning the Champions League against the team that took that chance away from them two seasons ago. Along with 2014’s, this is the biggest Madrid derby taking place at the highest stage possible for either side. Whoever wins will become kings of Europe’s top competition.

 

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