Atletico Madrid Advances to Champions League Final for 2nd Time in 3 Seasons
For the second time in 3 seasons, Atletico Madrid advances to Champions League Final and await the winner of Manchester City and crosstown rival Real Madrid on Wednesday. They entered the second leg of their semifinal match with Bayern Munich with a 1-0 aggregate lead after their victory at the Vicente Calderon.
Bayern got on the board first with a goal from Xabi Alonso on a free kick just outside the box in the 30′. It was a low shot that rarely gets through the wall. However, if it does, it’s nearly impossible for the keeper to get a good read on it from that close.
Ten minutes later, Thomas Muller had a penalty kick that keeper Jan Oblak made a terrific save on to keep Atletico within one. In the 54′, Fernando Torres put Atleti’s best forward Antoine Greizmann through to a one-on-one with Manuel Neuer, one of the best keepers in the world. He fired a low-rising shot that Neuer got a piece of, but could not contain it as it went through the net.
Despite being tied in the game at this point, due to the aggregate scoring rules, Atletico were up 2-1 overall by virtue of their previous 1-0 win. Needing to score, Bayern Munich’s star (one of many) Robert Lewandowski scored a header off a volley from Arturo Vidal to give Bayern a 2-1 lead.
However, Bayern wasn’t able to score against Oblak again. The 2 goals in one game were the most that Atletico Madrid had conceded all season as they’ve displayed historically masterful defense. With the aggregate score at 2-2, the tie breaker is whichever team scored more road goals. Since Atletico scored 1 in this game and Bayern scored 0 in Madrid, Atleti were the victors. This is an odd tie break to decide such an important tournament and may in fact be changed soon, but for now it is the way it is and it is the reason that Atletico continue their masterful run of form.
What’s Next for Atletico?
They are now in the Champions League Final for the second time in three years for a shot to win the tournament and accomplish a feat never achieved in the club’s history. After stunning Barcelona and Real Madrid to win La Liga two seasons ago, they are showing that it wasn’t a fluke and they are capable of competing with anyone. In fact, Barcelona were the club they defeated just before eliminating Bayern.
Now they await the winner of Man City and Real. A rematch of the Madrid Derby with Real would be enticing, as that’s who they faced in the final two years ago. After Atleti held a 1-0 lead late into the second half, Real got a flurry of goals to take the trophy. I’m sure los Rojiblancos would like nothing more than to get revenge on their hated rival on the biggest stage.
Only time will tell if that stage is even set. Luckily, we won’t have to wait long to see how this plays out.
(Atletico Madrid Advances to Champions League Final)