Atletico success remarkable but can top it with Real scalp
Atletico Madrid are understandably still reeling from their recent La Liga title success, following the final day draw at Barcelona, but now face the momentous task of taking on bitter-rivals Real Madrid in the upcoming Champions League final.
Diego Simeone masterminded Atleti (6/1 third-favourites to defend their crown next term) to finish top of the Spanish top-flight for the first time in 18 years, but could be the first manager in the club’s history to win the European Cup.
They have reached the final before, however, in 1974, where they lost 4-0 to Bayern Munich in a replay match, after coming so agonisingly close in the initial game. Atletico went ahead in the 114th minute of extra time, thanks to the late Luis Aragones, but a last minute goal from Georg Schwarzenbeck resulted in the fixture being played again two days later.
Simeone’s success this season is all the more amazing given the fact that the resources handed to him don’t come close to both Barca and Real. His club also had to do without their previous term’s top scorer Radamel Falcao.
Many have lauded Manchester City for winning the Premier League and Arsenal for getting their first trophy (FA Cup) since 2005, but again these clubs have a bigger spending power, and yet still failed in the Champions League.
While Atletico are looking for their first triumph in Europe’s elite club competition, Real are bidding for an unprecedented 10th. The latter are the odds-on favourites at 2/5 to lift the trophy, though Atleti, who have already beaten their neighbours this season at the Bernabeu, are a great shout at 15/8.
There are reports that they may be without their latest star striker Diego Costa due to injury, however. The Brazilian-born Spain international, who has scored 35 goals in La Liga and Champions League this campaign, picked up another knock on the final day of the season, and his absence would be a serious blow. If available, though, he is priced at 6/4 to net anytime.
The question is, however, will Atletico be able to sustain their success domestically and in Europe for the coming seasons? It is widely speculated that Costa will be on his way to England, with Chelsea the likely destination, while star goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois looks likely to return to Stamford Bridge.
Others who may be offered the chance to earn higher wages at more wealthy clubs include Koke, Arda Turan and even boss Simeone.
If you feel Atletico can continue this remarkable rise, then back them at 16/1 to win the Champions League next season.