Athletico Madrid’s quest to reach a second Champions League final in three seasons took a big step on Wednesday night after a resilient performance gave them a 1-0 lead to take to Bayern next week.
In typical style Diego Simeone’s men guarded against the German giants in a dogged fashion from the first whistle to the last.
The defensive abilities of Athletico has become the norm in recent seasons, with their never say die attitude and their mentality to maintain such intensity throughout the 90 minutes. This season however it seems they have reached a new level of shutting out an opponent that seems to all the world would run them ragged due to their attacking talents. This was evident from their quarter final success over league rivals Barcelona, and on Wednesday night Bayern Munich found the task of breaking down the Red and White of Athleti no easier.
The tonic for Athleticos attitude has multiple factors. Firstly the manager, Diego Simeone, has drilled into his players the mentality and spirit they show week in week out. He prowls the touchline constantly, not a minutes rest, not a single moment does he stop instructing his players and fuelling them with his own determination to succeed. The Argentine kicks almost every ball with his players every time they take the field, it truly is admirable to watch him. Simeone’s recruitment is also that of a specialist case. He hand picks his players that he knows will run through walls for the club, for him and more importantly for the fans who so devotedly follow them.
Speaking of the fans, they too are an intensity to admire just as much as the manager and his 11 red and white players on the pitch. A sign was aloft at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night reading “Together to the final” during their breath taking mosaic as the players took the field prior to kick off. The statement couldn’t be any more true. They are devoted to their team and they back Simeone along with every player at the club.
It would be unfair to say the club get by on just determination alone, with fantastic attacking talent throughout, but you can bet they will be dogged as ever come the return leg in Munich as they fight for their place in the final.