138 days after dethroning the champion in a night of suffering and glory on Anfield Road, in the last continental duel before the coronavirus pandemic, and eight after the end of LaLiga Santander, Atlético restarted on Monday the road to their great obsession historical: the Champions League.
In search of that competition that has escaped him up to three times (1974, against German Bayern Munich, 2014 and 2016, both against Real Madrid) and that will be decided in August in Lisbon (Portugal), scene of the final lost six years ago, one minute after the end of the duel, the rojiblanco team resumed training this afternoon in search of the most desired trophy for their hosts.
An Atletico who has already achieved the great sporting objective, and above all economic, of the season by securing his pass to the next edition of the great continental trophy, being third in the league competition, and who already looks at Lisbon without buts or excuses, after a week off to disconnect.
He has sixteen days of physical, tactical and mental preparation ahead – which began this Monday in training, which only missed the injured Thomas Partey and Sime Vrsaljko – to once again undertake the challenge of obtaining the European champion trophy, the only one that does not appear in their showcases.
THREE MONTHS OF WAITING AFTER THE EUROPEAN CHAMPION FALLS
After securing his ticket to the quarterfinals defeating Liverpool (2-3) in an extension that for months fed the dreams of the rojiblancos fans thanks to the two goals of Marcos Llorente and the third of Álvaro Morata who made both the Dutch Georginio Wijnaldum in the first half and that of Brazilian Roberto Firmino at the start of the extra time, football was extinguished for everyone due to the covid-19.
Fans from virtually everyone had to wait several months to see the ball rolling on the grass. In the case of the rojiblancos it was three months and three days, until Sunday, March 14, in San Mamés against Athletic Bilbao, where they had a 1-1 draw.
Since then, the numbers are incontestable: undefeated in the eleven league days of the restart, in which he achieved seven wins and four draws, 20 goals in favor and six against; Reinforced in a more aggressive game idea in the beginning and vertical in the endings, an Atlético more done than the one that in March made the machado against ‘The Kop’.
A reinforcement not only collective, but also individual, starting with the ‘hero of Anfield’, a Marcos Llorente seated as a forward (two goals and four assists in the league restart that have doubled his economic valuation, from 20 to 40 million euros , according to the web portal Transfermarkt), the recovery of the aim of Diego Costa and Álvaro Morata (three and four goals, respectively, in this last month), the physical recovery of the Uruguayan José María Giménez, the good role of Colombian winger Santiago Arias , and the general solidity of the entire campus, proved by the constant rotations.
ARGUMENTS TO BREAK A CURSE
All of them make up a bouquet of arguments for Atlético de Madrid’s great historical obsession: the European Cup, today the Champions League, which has escaped him three times.
Against German Bayern Munich in Brussels in 1974, it was a goal by the German Georg Schwarzenbeck on the brink of the end of extra time that equaled the goal of Luis Aragonés and led to the tiebreak two days later, where the rojiblancos were swept by the Bavarian team (4 -0).
In Lisbon, the scene of this year’s final, Atlético was champion in 2014 from minute 36, that of the Uruguayan central defender Diego Godín, until almost the end, when a goal by Sergio Ramos in the third minute of the The extension gave the tie and in overtime he was overtaken by three more goals from the Whites (4-1).
Against the same rival, two years later in Milan (Italy), it was penalties that condemned a team that responded to Sergio Ramos’ goal in the first quarter of an hour with another from Belgian Yannick Carrasco ten minutes after the conclusion. Without goals in extra time, it was penalties that decided: a failure by Juanfran Torres and a goal by Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the shoot-out and the third missed opportunity for the rojiblancos.
On this new path to the Lisbon final, the German Red Bull Leipzig, one of the surprises of this edition and a novice in these matches, will be the first rival, in the quarterfinals, on August 13.
« He has been doing a magnificent season, competing in the first places with a very offensive way of playing, » Simeone analyzed when the result of the draw was known.
If he overcomes that instance, the last stumbling block before the final for Atlético will be the winner between the crossing between the Italian Atalanta, another one that is debuting, and the Paris Saint-Germain, an undisputed power due to investment and staff but that usually stumbles in these instances and comes without having played league competition.
Three games separate Atlético from its great historical obsession. The road to that goal that the entity has been arguing for decades began this Monday in the sports city of Majadahonda. The destination is Lisbon, which the rojiblanco team hopes to transform from a symbol of defeat to a dream scene.