Will Atletico Crown A Remarkable Season?

It has already been a year to remember for Diego Simeone's side after they secured the Spanish title, but Tim Stannard thinks they can go a step further against Real Madrid...

Last Updated: 23/05/14 at 10:05 Post Comment

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Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti (

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti (

It was a solid effort by Barcelona, a fine attempt at a bit of sleight of hand to help along the grand illusion - the mysterious missing crisis. Over the weekend, all was doom and gloom with another capitulation in the Camp Nou to lose the league title to Atlético Madrid. But then Barça cheerfully announced the appointment of Luis Enrique as the new coach to replace poor Tata Martino, a maths teacher being usurped by the hunky PE dude. Leo Messi's contract was extended, as was Gerard Piqué's, then Marc-Andre ter Stegen was unveiled.

The thing is, anything that actually mattered was taking place over in the Spanish capital, with Real Madrid and Atlético preparing for the Champions League final across the border in Lisbon. The best bad result for Barça would be a win for the Rojiblancos so at least there would be some kind of Schadenfreude so celebrate in what was a trophy-less campaign.

In fact, there would be a whole ton of Schadenfreude as Real Madrid would have lost a chance to pick up the hallowed Décima to their scuzzy cousins from down the road. Florentino Pérez is a jowl-sporting misery guts at the best of times, so it is anyone's guess just how much the Madrid president's face is going to scrunch up and sag to the floor should Diego Simeone be hoisted aloft his players' soldiers rather than Carlo Ancelotti.

And there is a very real danger of this happening for Real Madrid in a nightmare that would have fans waking up with the sweats for years to come. In theory, the potential absence of Diego Costa and Arda Turan should be a hindrance to Atlético, a likely outcome despite the former looking for a miracle cure for a hamstring knack in the form of horse placenta. Foal play, to be sure.

However, this is a team of detachable parts that seems to function perfectly well with the kind of deficiencies that would mangle other sides, like Barcelona and Real Madrid for example. As long as Thibaut Courtois is in goal, everything is possible for one of the most sturdy, robust teams ever constructed. Indeed, winning the league title last Saturday in the most challenging circumstances in the Camp Nou must have both removed a ton of pressure from the players' backs and given them added motivation. After all, if winning the league in the Catalan capital feels good, try to imagine the binge session after a Champions League victory over Real Madrid.

This sense of release and free-skipping spirits won't be shared by the Santiago Bernabéu club whose players could well feel that they are walking onto the pitch in Portugal wearing an old-style diving suit, such is the weight of expectation on the team. The European Cup is the trophy which is a true obsession for the club and one that has been out of the hands of supposedly the biggest club in the world for over a decade.

This pressure could weigh too heavily on the team. Whilst Real Madrid certainly have the armoury to dispose of Atlético if all goes to plan, Ancelotti's side are facing a team that has its number and then some. The Copa del Rey win this time last year and a subsequent league victory in Real Madrid's home are arguments enough to suggest that it is Atleti that are set to secure a fitting end to a remarkable campaign. With the league title already in the bag, the Rojiblancos are set to float like a butterfly and sting like an enormous jellyfish. A Portuguese man-of-war if you will. Quite apt considering the surroundings.

Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter.

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