Forty long years after it last did so, Atlético Madrid will play its second final in Europe’s top-tier competition in Lisbon on May 24.
And it will do so against none other than its cross-city rival Real Madrid.
It will be the first time that two teams from the same city have met in a Champions League final and only the second that two Spanish teams have been involved after Real Madrid beat Valencia 3-0 in the 2000 final in Paris.
Taken together, Real’s 0-4 away victory over Bayern Munich on Tuesday and Atleti’s 1-3 win at Chelsea the following evening provided proof that Spain’s grip on global soccer remains unwavering.
The only city to boast two European Cup-winning sides is Milan; Atleti will be looking to make Madrid the second
But now, as the national side prepares to defend its world title in Brazil this summer, the focus is suddenly on the Madrid teams rather than formerly all-powerful Barcelona, which has wilted of late.
The only city to boast two European Cup-winning sides is Milan: AC has won the trophy seven times and Inter three.
In Lisbon Atleti will be looking to make the Spanish capital the second, as well as go one better than it did in the 1974 European Cup final, when it lost 4-0 to Bayern Munich.
Meanwhile, Real, which last won the trophy in 2002, will be gunning for that elusive “Décima,” a 10th win in Europe’s top-tier tournament.
Separating the two will be no easy feat. Many column inches have already been filled with comment on the miracles Atleti coach Diego Simeone has worked at the club, winning three titles in two-and-a-half years (the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup in 2012 and the Copa del Rey in 2013) and, most impressively, putting it in contention for a possible Liga-Champions League double this season.
But little less should be made of the achievements of Real’s Carlo Ancelotti, who in Lisbon will be going for a third Champions League triumph as coach, equaling the European record of Liverpool’s Bob Paisley. “I have no personal ambition, truthfully,” the Italian said after Tuesday’s win – a match he described as “perfect.”
“The aim of getting Madrid into the final after 12 years is very great and makes me very proud that we managed it. When I arrived at Madrid the air around this competition was a special one. You feel the dream of the Décima in the air. And I think we reached the final because of that.”