Here we go.
I’ve known that I would be writing this match pre-view for some months now. I’ve been dreading it in all honesty. How can my humble words sum up sufficiently what the next game will mean to AtléticoFans around the world who have sung, danced, cheered, sweated and – yes this too – cried on the shores of the river?
The sweat, the tears and the singing voices have added an element to the strength of the bricks and mortar that make up the Vicente Calderón and differentiated it from any other stadium in the world.
One of my first clear memories at the Calderón was a game against Villarreal. We went 0-2 down early and my little mind couldn’t quite comprehend why the red and white clad fans not only continued to sing but seemed to have got louder with each goal from the opponents.
Then, a poor backpass to Pepe Reina (yes, that Pepe Reina!) ended in the net. Two very late goals by Don Fernando Torres not only gave Atleti three points, but ensured that that little kid would live and breathe Atleti for the rest of his life.
And now that place, sacred to me, will end.
At 16:45 CET on 21 May 2017, Atlético de Madrid will play their father club Athletic Bilbao in the Vicente Calderón. The clash in Bilbao ended 2-2 with Koke and Griezmann scoring for Atleti. Last weekend both teams drew 1-1.
Whilst Atleti has secured their third place in La Liga confirming Champions League next season; Athletic are battling it out with Villarreal and Real Sociedad to play the Europa League, and will likely be firing on all cylinders.
Defensively Simeone’s headache has turned into a migraine. Giménez, Filipe Luís and Diego Godín are all suspended. Juanfran, Vrsaljko and Augusto remain injured. We will possibly see a defensive four of Lucas, Saúl, Savic and Thomas, which will seek to enable Oblak to win the Zamora trophy for the second year in a row as long as he does not concede six goals.
In all honesty, I am more upset that they are missing out on the historical element of the game than anything else. At least Raúl García will play!
What will the end of the game look like?
The club has been fairly tight lipped about what fans can expect when the final whistle blows on Sunday. Will there be fire works? Live music? Will there be a pitch invasion? All these details we will have to wait and see.
What we may get, is the Ladies XI presenting the Liga Iberdrola trophy to the crowd after winning the league the day before. This would certainly be an excellent way to start the festivities.
After the epic ‘euroderbi’ some fans decided to take their seats with them home to commemorate the historical nature of the game. The club is very keen to prevent this happening after the Athletic game due to commitments to host the Copa del Rey final between Alavés and Barcelona. The decision to host that game in itself has been enormously unpopular amongst Atleti fans.
One anonymous fan, with a season ticket at Atleti since 1999, told AtléticoFans, “I have sat in that same seat for 18 years, and the club thinks that some Barca fan is going to sit in it after me? They have to be mad.”
The club has sought to compromise with fans feeling similarly. A commemorative match will be held after the Copa del Rey final and the club is now giving season ticket holders to get their seats for free after a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert to be held at the Calderon.
Here at AtléticoFans we would like to hear from you about your favourite memories of the Vicente Calderon. Let us know in either the comments below or on Twitter using the hashtag #MemoryOfTheCalderon.