What an unbelievable night. A little under 3,000 Atletico fans squeezed into the visitors section at the Allianz Arena, expecting to sing and shout their way to victory. We were also expecting to suffer and cry, because it wouldn’t be Atleti without these feelings too.
First, the singing. Atleti fans could be heard far and wide across the centre of Munich. Shepherded into Marienplatz, the Atleti fans were soon dispersed by the police and moved on. Now packed into various tiny squares, Los Rojiblancos kept finding each other.
The rain was lashing down but it didn’t hamper the spirits. “La Liga de Campeones es mi obsesión.” The Champions League is my obsession.
Those that took shelter found themselves in beer halls, drinking and singing the afternoon away.
When the rain became too much (and after we had hideously tried to broadcast live from Marienplantz in the downpour), the police moved us on to the train in small groups, and on to the Allianz.
Chasing the second final in three seasons, Atleti knew they were in for a tough game. Matters seemed a lot worse when the game kicked off. Bayern were ready, and attacked through every outlet available.
Ribery was the danger man on the left. Vidal saw enough of the ball to create real problems for Atleti. The same ball which Atleti couldn’t seem to keep hold of, despite having Augusto in to bolster the visitor’s midfield.
The goal came from a free kick, and as soon as the foul was given, a hush fell over the Atlético fans, and the singing stopped for a moment. It was a clumsy challenge that gave away the opportunity.
Xabi Alonso hammered the ball at the Atlético wall, and got the deflection he needed from José Giménez. The youngster tried to get out of the way but couldn’t, and the Bayern fans erupted.
Second, came the shouting. I won’t regale you with the exact words that were used by the Atleti fans when the referee pointed to the penalty spot, but they were spoken with disbelief and astonishment.
It was at our end, but I think almost everyone missed what it was given for. A look back at all of the key decisions will be needed when we’re back from the airport.
Whether it was or wasn’t a penalty won’t matter now, as Jan Oblak stepped up to pull off a fine save from Thomas Müller.
The best goalkeeper in the world was on the pitch yesterday, and he was in the yellow goalkeeper strip of Atlético Madrid.
If Müller would have found the back of the net, I’m sure that Atleti wouldn’t have reacted the way they did. The Atleti fans raised their voices and urged the team on, making it until half time.
The Carrasco for Augusto change was necessary, and despite this being his first game back since his injury, The Belgian was superb on the left for Atlético.
Third, the crying.
Atlético found the vital away goal they had been searching for just ten minutes into the second half, and it was after some fantastic link up play from Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann.
When Griezmann was put through on goal, and one-on-one with Manuel Neuer, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Frenchman would find the back of the net.
When the net bulged at our end of the stadium, a lot of fans around me burst into tears of disbelief and joy. It was an amazing feeling. I can’t tell you the emotion in our small corner of the Allianz Arena.
Atleti fans continued to chant and sing as the second half went on. Knowing that Bayern needed three goals did not go a long way in settling the Atleti nerves.
The Bayern fans below us had quietened down where they had once been very vocal in their dislike of the constant Atlético chanting.
This changed the second that Lewandowski’s header hit the back of the net. Momentarily forgetting the away goal rule, Bayern fans celebrated by taunting us, only until the reality dawned on them that they would still have to score again.
Fourth, the suffering. Attack after attack. The Atlético goal was being peppered with shots from the impressive Bayern attack. Ribery cutting balls back from the goal line into the danger area, Xabi Alonso trying from outside of the area. All of which, Jan Oblak was equal to.
The suffering continued when the referee pointed to the same spot as before when he awarded the Atlético penalty. Galloping down the left flank, Fernando Torres was brought down by the retreating Bayern defenders.
Whether it was in or outside the box, I couldn’t tell you. From our angle, it looked like it was in, but that’s one for the rewatch.
What I can tell you, is not a single person around me celebrated the award of a penalty. In fact, it was greeted with a mixture of fear and disbelief that we had the chance to put the game to bed in the 85th minute.
Chances like this do not come easy to us. This is Atleti.
Fernando Torres stepped up to take the penalty, and from our angle it was almost a carbon copy of the Müller penalty an hour before. Saved by Neuer, at a good height to his right.
“Fernando Torres, lo lo lo lo lo lo, Fernando Torres” rang through the Atlético fans as El Niño was visibly distressed by the miss.
The five minutes of injury time came, turned into fifteen minutes (it felt like) before the referee blew for full time. And the pain and nerves were over.
— Fernando Torres (@Torres) May 3, 2016
Atlético fans crying, falling into each other’s arms. Supporting each other and helping one another to believe. We had reached another Champions League final. Our second in three years. On to Milano!
La Liga de Campeones es mi obsesión. Nunca dejes de creer.