Believe, for this is real. Atlético Madrid are the crowned champions of Spain, having toppled super-powers Real Madrid and Barcelona over the course of a 38-game season. With the mantra of “one match at a time”, Diego Simeone’s men have achieved the unimaginable.
Four times this season, current La Liga leaders Atlético Madrid have taken on reigning champions and title chasers Barcelona, and four times, nothing has separated them. The Rojiblancos’ backline has cancelled out the Catalan’s attacking talent on each occasion they have met so far, although in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg, something has to give. Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 20:45 CET.
For years, Atlético watched on as Real Madrid and Barcelona battled for the top positions in Spain and Europe. This season however, things have changed. They’re the top two in La Liga with a last day showdown still to come next month, contested the Super Cup back in August, and now los Rojiblancos and los Blaugrana are preparing to face each other in a Champions League clash that could go a long way towards deciding who comes out on top between the two this year.
Atlético put together a hairy-chested, stomp-your-foot-on-the-ground-and-punch-a-Madridista-in-the-face comeback performance in Bilbao on Saturday to earn their fifth straight league win. Stunned by an unexpected Athletic goal in the sixth minute — the first goal they had conceded in five La Liga matches — Diego Simeone’s hombres recovered quickly and went on to conquer the new San Mamés for the second time this season.
The stalemate continued between La Liga’s two giants when the first half of the campaign came to a close for the sides on Saturday. Atlético and Barcelona played to a second straight 0-0 draw, with the third version of the great battle of styles this season taking place at the Vicente Calderón.
The first trophy of the 2013-14 season will be decided on Wednesday evening, as Atlético Madrid look to cause an upset against La Liga champions Barcelona by winning the Spanish Super Cup. Last week’s first leg in Madrid was evenly contested but ended all square, Neymar cancelling out David Villa’s opener with the all-important away
Atlético midfielder Koke, a jewel of the club’s youth academy, for months sat forlorn on the bench while Gregorio Manzano was still calling the shots at Atleti. Despite reassurances from both Manzano and sporting director José Luis Caminero over the summer that he would play an important role on the squad this season, the Spanish