With Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both squeaking by, the 2016 UEFA Champions League final is set: A Rematch of the one from two years ago. A Madrid derby, with both teams also busy trying to win a championship in Spain.
In Spain, right now, they’re trailing Barcelona either by goal difference (Atletico) or by one point (Real). In the Champions League? Atletico did Real’s dirty work for them by knocking out Barcelona for the second time in three years, sending them home in the quarter final stage. It might not have been with the most inspirational soccer performance as the critics love to remind us, but it’s hard to ignore the ability of Atletico, since Diego Simeone arrived on the sidelines, to break the duopoly and the usual European hierarchy we’ve gotten used to.
So, revenge? Yes, revenge. Whether Simeone will be on the sidelines at the San Siro on the 28 of May or not, Atletico will be fired up. Not just because it’s the regular state of this team, but also due to the rival in front of them and what happened two years ago.
Atletico had a 1-0 lead in that final thanks to a 36th minute Diego Godin goal. They actually controlled the match, or at least felt comfortable in it, until the 66th minute, when Simeone made a weird decision of pulling out Raul Garcia and introducing Jose Sosa to the pitch.
An attacking substitution? Possibly, but it made Atletico lose the middle of the pitch and put Real Madrid back in the match. Sergio Ramos equalized in the 93rd minute and in extra time, Real Madrid ran all over their crosstown rivals, capping it off with that embarrassing celebration by Cristiano Ronaldo, who was awful for most of the match.
This time, Simeone will probably avoid making a mistake like that if he can help it, but he needs to be allowed on the sidelines for that to happen.