Reshmin Chowdhury is a TV sports broadcaster keeping the Champions League and may maybe be writing for the BBC Sport web dwelling eventually of the opponents.
The Atletico Madrid press group and even about a avid gamers had acknowledged I used to be a fortunate enchantment for them in 2016 once they went on a spectacular bustle the total technique to the Champions League final.
They beat the Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven, Spanish champions Barcelona and German champions Bayern Munich, most attention-grabbing to fall on the final hurdle to their bitter unpleasant-town opponents Accurate Madrid in Milan.
I had covered all of those knockout video games, except the final, when their ‘supreme fortune’ ran out. Or now not it is one thing they joked about when I went wait on the next marketing campaign.
That is the thing about Atleti – who will reach a fifth Champions League quarter-final in six years within the occasion that they convert a 2-0 advantage into victory of their final-16 2d-leg tie at Juventus on Tuesday – they’re this kind of easy membership to love.
They’re one in every of my current teams to duvet within the Champions League and the cauldron of the earlier Vicente Calderon on those colossal European nights was my number 1 venue. It was unimaginable now not to assemble a soft space for them.
That says loads, coming from someone who spent two seasons working for Accurate Madrid TV!
Again then (2008-2010), Atleti may maybe presumably most attention-grabbing dream of reaching such heights. They possess been by a ways the disagreeable membership when put next with their extra famed rival, each and every in phrases of total success and stature. Striking it crudely, “el derbi Madrileno” was a easy three components for Accurate.
|Atletico Madrid within the Champions League|
|2008-09||Final 16 (2-2 v Porto, misplaced on away targets rule)|
|2013-14||Final (misplaced 4-1 v Accurate Madrid)|
|2014-15||Quarter-finals (misplaced 1-0 on aggregate v Accurate Madrid)|
|2015-16||Final (1-1, misplaced 5-3 on penalties v Accurate Madrid)|
|2016-17||Semi-finals (misplaced 4-2 on aggregate v Accurate Madrid)|
The transformation to a valid European power is now not always in actual fact one thing I may maybe presumably possess envisaged. A hit the Europa League below Quique Sanchez Flores in 2010 was the initiating, nonetheless it is below membership tale Diego Simeone the next year that the rebirth in actual fact began.
From their landmark first derby victory in 14 years – beating Accurate Madrid within the Copa del Rey final on the Bernabeu in 2013 – to worthwhile La Liga in 2014, a extra two Europa Leagues, reaching two Champions League finals and opening a composed stadium, that is a membership who possess earned their declare amongst the continental elite.
A ticket of how a ways they possess risen is summed up by Atleti’s public enemy number 1: Sergio Ramos. Harmful for his heroic goading of the fans after their two Champions League final defeats, even the Accurate Madrid captain admitted to me once that he has grown to respect the membership as a lawful adversary.
Spending time spherical Atletico, you leer there’s a valid warmth and openness on the membership. The prime of press instructed us that they had carefully studied how diverse colossal clubs operated and made up our minds they an crucial to habits themselves in any other case.
That ethos is clear to discover. From the hierarchy, to Simeone, to the avid gamers, there’s now not any such thing as a room for conceitedness – be that from the consistently amiable membership hero Fernando Torres, goalkeeper Jan Oblak or defender Filipe Luis, to the worn captain Gabi in suits of laughter at my Spanish accent. This was a proper neighborhood of down-to-earth other folks.
I stumbled on Simeone himself animated. A passionate, heart-on-your-sleeve character, tough eventually of the sides, a bit cold initially – and even suspicious – nonetheless his warmth grew to develop into obvious ravishing instant. It was slightly the dignity to the impression I had of himafter his World Cup antics with England midfielder David Beckhamin France 1998.
Essentially, ‘El Cholo’ is held in such high regard and with such affection in Spain. When his group play their hearts out for him, you know why.
Luis once instructed me that Simeone is someone who has to bag everything off his chest if he is upset with you. “Even if he sees you in a restaurant, he will diagram and disclose you straight away,” he acknowledged.
Every pre and post-match interview I did with the Argentine was lawful, initiating, obliging and no-nonsense. From my standpoint, I most neatly-liked that too.
Having lived in Madrid and labored with hundreds of Atleti fans, I had a proper advice of what the membership represented. The most attention-grabbing perception, alternatively, was from Torres.
Sooner than the 2016 Champions League final, we requested loads of avid gamers to learn one line each and every from a script in regards to the contention between the 2 Madrid clubs, which may maybe presumably presumably be edited together. Torres refused to learn the line “out of the shadows” – as a consequence of, he acknowledged, “we possess been never of their shadow”. My respect for him went up loads of notches.
One other occasion was earlier than his farewell match, the 2018 Europa League final. He stared down the camera lens and began with: “In case you develop up in Madrid, you may maybe maybe presumably exercise the easy route and enhance Accurate Madrid… or you may maybe maybe presumably assemble it the exhausting plot and enhance Atleti.”
Or now not it is slightly one thing to listen to a global-class player, who has won virtually everything there’s to make your mind up, talk with such raw ardour in regards to the soccer membership his grandfather took him to boost as a little one.
That keenness is personified by the person on the helm, take note the real fact that. Take into memoir the crotch-grabbing celebrations which possessearned Simeone a radiantafter the critical-leg victory over Juventus. I may maybe presumably maybe doubtlessly deem it indecent or attention looking out for from any diverse supervisor. From Simeone, or now not it is all fragment of the fun.
With Atleti travelling to Turin with a 2-0 advantage, this will doubtless be animated to discover which group progresses to the quarter-finals in a match-up of two extremely efficient narratives. This was the tie I used to be having a scrutinize ahead to the most. Two teams who simply couldn’t afford to be knocked out at this stage. Two teams who possess been owed a damage in this opponents.
Final year’s Europa League title did now not assemble Atleti justice, they possess been a ways too proper to possess ever dropped into it. Even their Uefa Mammoth Cup decide in August, once they within the kill beat Accurate Madrid in a European showpiece, will never be ample (the put myself and diverse newshounds possess been doused in champagne on the pitch by Diego Godin!).
If they are able to steer clear of a Juve comeback, they’d absolutely be regarded as amongst the favourites to make your mind up the one trophy that eludes them, the one who has triggered them so indispensable danger.
Three-time finalists Atleti are in actual fact a membership with success, steadiness, progress and a lawful identity. Furthermore, they’re hitting their rhythm and are a potent threat.
They’re now not consistently ravishing to peek, mind you, nonetheless their grit and resolution is staggering. Their story is moving to discover and their upward thrust has been unheard of.
The inducement for Atleti this year is higher than ever, take note the real fact that, with the Champions League final being held of their composed Wanda Metropolitano stadium on Saturday, 1 June.
In spite of everything, it’d be excessive to be the host nonetheless now not turn up for the bag together.