Despite losing 2-1 to Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena last night, with an aggregate of 2-2 and an away goal advantage, Atletico Madrid have proceeded on to the 2016 UEFA Champions League final. Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski scored for Bayern while Antoine Griezmann scored for the ultimate victors Rojo Blancos. Bayern had lost the previous leg of the match at Vicente Calderon by a score of 1-0.
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) May 3, 2016
Bayern, having lost only two home games previously this season, were favorites to proceed on to the finals. Pep Guardiola’s Bayern started with a strong attacking line-up in a game they absolutely had to win. Frank Ribery and Thomas Muller, who were substitutes in the first leg defeat, were in the starting line-up. Bayern attacked from the start and there was a clear intensity brought on by Muller and Ribery as they pushed the usually strong Atletico defence to their limits.
Breakthrough came in the 31st minute of the game when Bayern were awarded a free kick for Augusto Fernandez’s foul on David Alaba at the edge of the box. Xabi Alonso’s free kick found the net after a slight deflection off Atletico defender Jose Maria Gimenez. This was the first goal Athleti had conceded in more than 600 minutes. Gimenez was at fault again in the 33rd minute of the game when he pulled Javi Martinez down inside the box to concede a penalty. It was all haywire for the Rojo Blancos. Then their young goalkeeper Jan Oblak came to the rescue by making the crucial penalty save from Thomas Muller. Bayern, however, finished the first half with a lead and a firm determination to win the game.
At half time, Siemone made a tactical change bringing Yannick Ferreira Carrasco in place of Fernandez. Atletico started the second half in fighting spirits. And then Antoine Griezmann scored for Atletico in the 55th minute of the game. He capitalized on a clever through ball from Fernando Torres and there was nothing Neuer could do to stop him. This goal meant that the aggregate was 2-1 in favor of Atletico and since they had the away goal advantage, Bayern needed two more before the final whistle to proceed to the finals. Robert Lewandowski’s header in the 74th minute made it 2-1 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate. But there were no more goals to come for the Bavarians, and at the full-time whistle, Atletico had proceeded on to the final of this season’s UEFA Champions League. This is the second time they have become finalists in the last three seasons of the Champions League, having reached the final in 2014 but ultimately suffering a 4-1 defeat with Real Madrid.
Atletico’s run in this year’s competition has been nothing less of spectacular considering that they beat defending champions Barcelona in the quarter finals & five-time champions Bayern Munich in the semis, two of the strongest candidates of the tournament, to reach the final of the 2016 UEFA Champions League.
This is the third consecutive time that Bayern have been knocked out in the Semis, each of these defeats coming from Spanish sides (Real Madrid in 2014 & Barcelona in 2015). This defeat means that Pep Guardiola has failed to win a Champions League with Bayern. The Spaniard is headed for Manchester next season where he is to manage Manchester City.
Siemone’s men will now face the winner of the other semi-final where Man City play Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu. Should Real Madrid win the game, the final match will be the second Madrid derby final in the last three season of the UEFA Champions League. The finals will be held in San Siro, Milan, on May 28. Alicia Keys is set to perform in the opening act of the game.
[Photo by : Adam Pretty/Getty Images]