It all started in Bucharest

May 9, 2012. National Arena Bucharest Stadium. More than 100,000 wild dogs swarmed uncontrollably in the outskirts and in the capital of Romania. And within that stadium the Atlético de Madrid was crowned champion of the Europa League by beating Athletic 3-0. That title would be the first of the long list of alirones that the Cholo Simeone as technician of the mattress box.

In December 2011 the hiring of the Cholo Simeone as coach of Atlético de Madrid. The Argentine coach arrived to replace Gregorio Manzano, who had left a real team full of stars like Godín, Falcao, Diego or Arda Turan adrift in the Santander League. It is true that The Professor had left the team classified for the round of 32 of the Europa League, but the debacle in the Copa del Rey, added to the position in the League, he condemned Jaén.

Simeone replaced Gregorio Manzano and little by little the face of a team that was not giving the expected performance with so many quality players was changing. After six games played in League, with three wins and three draws, at Cholo he had to debut in European competition at the head of the Atlético de Madrid. The mattresses prevailed Lazio on aggregate 4-1. In the eighths the victim was the Besiktas Turkish, who between the two games fell by a greater difference: 6-1.

In the quarterfinals the rival was Hannover 96 and the sleeve was more even, although the Athletic on aggregate they beat the German team 4-2. In the semifinal the Athletics he was the executioner of Valencia, who won the tie 5-2. The colchoneros were planted like this in the final, where they would have to face another Spanish team: the Athletic club. The end of that edition of the Europa League it was in Bucharest, at National Arena and there the men of Simeone they swept the Basque team 3-0 in one of the best games in memory with the Argentine at the helm of the rojiblanca ship. Of the current squad, only the captain today was present, KokeThat night he had a few minutes and watched him go, little by little, forging the legend that is today at the club as the second player with the most games in the history of the entity.

Now him Atlético de Madrid and Bucharest they cross again. This time in the round of 16 of the Champions League. The National Arena will be the field of Athletics, since the Chelsea is prohibited from entering Spain because of the restrictions imposed to try to stop the spread of the damn coronavirus. The UEFA chose this stadium and the home of the team of Simeone will be in Romania, land from which two of the greatest legends in history emerged: that of Dracula … and the one that started the Cholo as coach of Athletic.

The Athletic raised in Romania his second Europa League in two years. In 2010 I had won it Quique Sánchez Flores before him Fulham in Hamburg, end that was marked by the Icelandic volcano that erupted and left ash flying over the sky of the north of the old continent thus restricting air traffic. It was an odyssey for the swollen mattress to reach Germany. Now they cannot be in Bucharest due to the coronavirus, but fans are aware that the team is returning to a stadium where one of the most glorious times in club history began.

Interestingly, the Atlético de Madrid would have to face in August in the final of the European Super Cup to the Chelsea, who had won the Champions League. Both sets were cited in Monaco, at Luis II Stadium. That night will not be erased from the retina of the swollen mattress for a long time. The men of the Cholo Simeone They passed the Londoners 4-1, with a spectacular hat-trick of Radamel Falcao, which allowed the Cholo won his second title as coach of the Athletics.

From there the rest is history. A Copa del Rey, a League, a Spanish Super Cup and another Europa League and European Super Cup. He only lacks the Champions League to the Argentine coach. He has brushed against it twice when reaching the finals of 2014 and 2016, but bad luck and the penalty shoot-out caused those Orejonas to end up at the hands of the eternal rival of the Atlético de Madrid. Now they go back to Bucharest, where it all began in a stadium where both Simeone as the squad expect it to be the beginning of a final phase of the Champions that leads them to lift the long-awaited title that has already escaped them three times.