After an epic showdown in Munich on Tuesday night, Atletico Madrid eliminated Bayern Munich and advanced to the Final where they will try to claim the coveted title for the first time in their history.
On Tuesday night, Diego Simeone and his players endured Bayern Munich’s exhaustive pressure and qualified to the final despite their 2-1 loss, thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s goal.
Consequently, the Rojiblancos will have the opportunity to earn the title, two years after their painful loss to Real Madrid (in extra-time) in the 2014 final in Lisbon.
This year, the big difference will be the fact that Atletico will now be the favourite and not the underdog.
Simeone’s players have been tremendous this season and have done their best to remain competitive and win both the La Liga (for a second time in the last three years) and the UEFA Champions League.
More specifically, the team has been very effective, both defensively and offensively, and that’s the key to Atlético winning both titles.
The Spanish side have conceded only 16 goals in 35 league matches this season as well as just seven (goals) from their 12 Champions League games following their 2-1 loss to Bayern, having kept the clean sheet in eight of these 12 games.
In addition they are equally efficient on the offensive end of the pitch, having scored against 23 of the 25 teams they have faced this season in all competitions, with Griezmann having scored 30 goals for Atletico in all competitions including seven in the Champions League.
And it’s not only about the French striker banging in the goals, as his team-mates (including Koke, Diego Godin and Filipe Luis among others) have put in consistent performances during the season and have helped Simeone implement his plan and tactics to lead the side to the top.
Most importantly, the Argentinian manager has created a team that can beat its opponents without having the ball possession, as their playing style focuses on the strong defensive structure and the fast counter-attacks, with no other club in Europe being more effective in that style of football.
As a result, Atletico Madrid are still capable of reaching the top of both the Spanish and European football, as they currently are tied with Barcelona at the top of the standings with just two games to go.
The Rojiblancos will now face Levante on the road before a final day match-up against Celta Vigo at home, and will fancy their chances having been unstoppable at the Vicente Calderon this season, having won 25 of their last 30 European fixtures and having lost only once in their last 22 home matches.
They’re expected to earn all six points from those two games and put pressure of the Catalans, who will have to win their remaining two matches as well in order to retain their title.
That said, Atletico Madrid proved once again they are one of the best teams in the world in the last four years and will have the chance to make history by winning both the La Liga and the UEFA Champions League in the next three weeks.
*Images from: www.90min.com, www.skysports.com, www.theguardian.com