There isn’t a club that has been tortured more by this famous old competition, but maybe this time, at last, things could finally be falling their way
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In the days before Angel Correa’s positive test momentarily threw Atletico Madrid’s Champions League campaign into doubt, the Uruguayan put the team’s conviction into words.
“It’s a beautiful possibility because we’re only three matches away,” Correa said in an interview with Olé. “One way or another, we have to win the Champions League with Diego Simeone.”
There is a feeling around the club that the current circumstances may be finally falling the manager’s way. Even the positive coronavirus tests from Correa and Sime Vrsaljko have only ended up strengthening the side’s resolve.
Their team-mates want to fight for the lads left behind, while the relief that the situation didn’t cause greater problems – or more positive tests – has also benefited the squad’s mentality in a curious way. There had been the brief fear this could have seen them forfeit their match. One figure close to the club meanwhile quipped: “It’s terrible for the lads, but it would have been worse if it was Jan Oblak.”
By the time the rest of the squad got to their hotel in Lisbon on Tuesday, they were met with images of the club’s legends. The idea is to make them feel at home.
When it comes to this grandest of continental competitions, though, those heroes may as well be ghosts. Many of them – like Diego Godin, like Juanfran – suffered some of the club’s most painful moments in the Champions League.
Atletico are one of many sides in the last eight with a complex about the competition, to the point it might even be a theme of these finals, but they are the only club left to have been in a final and never won one. That’s happened three times, a competition record.
The very fact it is in Lisbon only makes it all the more acute for them. Continue reading