Thursday, May 01, 2014

Madrid-Madrid final

It was bound to be an interesting final no matter what happened between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, and indeed, it is now confirmed that the final in Lisbon on May 24th will be a local derby between David and Goliath, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.
Real Madrid are favourites for sure, but Atletico Madrid showed great quality when they brushed aside Chelsea 1-3 in Stamford Bridge. It was a strange Chelsea side. The line-up without Schurrle and Azpilicueta as right-half seemed a bit surprising, but they seemed to dominate and with patience, went ahead 1-0. But Atletico's 1-1 right before halftime made Chelsea lose their nerve while it gave Atletico a boost of energy.  Chelsea's defense looked the shakiest I have seen them in the season as Atletico's pressure improved. Although it was not a big penalty, it was only deserved when Diego Costa made it 2-1. Arda Turan's Turkish delight of a third goal only sealed a legendary night for Atletico Madrid, and what must be one of the most embarrassing defeats for Chelsea and Mourinho.
I cannot help but think that Chelsea underestimated Atletico Madrid, and already had their minds in Lisbon. At this level, underestimating an opponent is an unforgiveable mistake.

I will definitely support Atletico Madrid in the final, as I think everyone who is not a Real Madrid fan will. They are huge underdogs in every sense of the word, but Real Madrid will know that their opponents will fight to the last second. That is one of the great inspirations Diego Simeone have given this side. At the same time, I cannot feel but a lingering doubt about Atletico's nerves, as I cannot but help to think of the CL final of 2000 (which is very painful to me): Valencia were having a splendid season, far better than Real Madrid, and arrived at the Champions League final almost as favourites against Real Madrid. In that final they completely lost their head, impressed by the setting and by them being so close to the title. Real Madrid tore them apart with a 3-0 victory...
I am afraid something similar could happen, but certainly hope not. It would only be wonderful for Spanish football if Atletico Madrid won both la liga and the Champions League..

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