London: This is turning into a “dream” season for Atletico Madrid, with a Champions League final against rivals Real Madrid on the horizon after captain Tiago helped overcome former club Chelsea.
Atletico Madrid's 'keeper Thibaut Courtois (left) catches the ball as Chelsea’s Fernando Torres tries to head it at Stamford Bridge. Pic/AFP.
Diego Simeone’s side have had plenty of admirers this term, impressing on both the domestic and European stages.
Atletico sit atop of the Primera Division as the season enters the home straight and will now take on city rivals Real in the Champions League final on May 24. They secured their place in Lisbon with an impressive 3-1 win at Chelsea in Wednesday’s semi-final second leg, where captain Tiago, who made 52 appearances for the Blues between 2004 and 2005, shone in midfield.
“Winning here is not easy,” the Portuguese said. “We played well against a very good team and we are very happy to get to the final. “We knew that if we scored a goal the situation for Chelsea would become more difficult.
“Scoring before half-time was very important for us as it gave us confidence. In the second half we were able to play in the spaces behind the Chelsea defence and we are very strong when we play like that. It is unbelievable for us to play this final. On Sunday we have another ‘final’ against Levante and maybe we have a possibility to win the league title as well. This season is a dream.”
Meanhwile, Diego Costa said, “We’ve done everything to be in the final. We justly deserve to be in the final.
“The team was calm. Torres scored a goal but we knew a goal from us was worth double. The team has been amazing.”
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has worked wonders in his two and a half years at Atletico, guiding the club from 10th place in La Liga to their first European Cup final since 1974 and to the brink of a first league title since 1996. This despite being forced to sell players like Radamel Falcao due to financial constraints.