Last night was one of the most spectacular European nights I’ve witnessed so far at the Vicente Calderón.
From the moment the fans gathered outside the iconic stadium in the hours leading up to kick-off, to the moment the last supporter left almost an hour after the final whistle, the Atlético fans never stopped singing.
‘Juntos Hacia La Victoria’ was the message adorned across the Lateral stand as the teams took to the pitch, as Atlético marched together to victory, along with hundreds of ‘Nunca dejes de creer’ banners.
Atlético never stopped believing. Not even for a second.
When Saúl hit the majestic cross with the outside of his left foot, my heart was in my mouth. When Griezmann’s header hit the back of the Barcelona net, I was in somebody else’s seat.
The passion and the intensity that Atlético played with was too much for a Barcelona team who never really looked rushed or like a team on the verge of elimination.
The penalty, that just about squeezed in, secured safe passage for Atlético, despite an abnormally long period of injury time.
The next round
As we stayed in to welcome the players back on to the pitch following the full-time whistle, everyone was buzzing about potential semi-final destinations. It’s a choice of three ‘M’s for Atlético in tomorrow’s draw.
Munich, Manchester, or right here in Madrid.
“It’s going to be Munich, definitely Munich. In two weeks we’ll be in Munich – I’ve just got a feeling,” was the opinion of one of the fans.
“It’s City, then Bayern in the final – definitely,” said another, getting a bit ahead of himself. But we can all dream, right?
Each potential draw comes with its own subplots and dramas.
If it’s Manchester, then it’s the return of Kun Agüero to the Vicente Calderón for the first time since he left in 2011. It’s a tie against a team carving their own place in European football, in their first European semi-final.
If Munich is going to be our destination, then of course Atleti will be looking to avenge the European Cup final defeat of 1974 – the last time these two teams met.
You know the story – Bayern equalised in the very last minute of extra time from 25 yards to make it 1-1, after Luis Aragones had given Atlético the lead in one of his last games as an Atlético player.
Bayern went on to win the rematch 4-0 only two days later against a tired Atleti side.
And of course, should we draw Real Madrid (again), then it’s two ties in Madrid and an opportunity to set the record straight in Europe after 2014’s Champions League final.
Atlético Madrid are a team that everybody wants to avoid – and that was once again proven on Wednesday night.