At the start of the season, Atletico Madrid was in a spot of bother, They had a transfer ban looming over their head along with talks of leaving for Old Trafford. But things seemed to stabilize, with the club re-signing Diego Costa ( Pre-contract, joined in January) and Griezmann deciding to stay put.
As the new Season kicked-off, Atleti were drawn alongside Roma, and Qarabag for the group stage of the Champions League. Football Pundits all across the Globe termed it as the ‘Group of Death’, Atleti were firm favorites to qualify especially considering that they had made the final twice in the last 3 seasons. ,
But that’s the beauty of football, isn’t it? Anything can happen. Atletico managed only one win in the group stage, a 2-0 win at home against Roma and drew four times including two draws against minnows Qarabag and lost a thrilling 2-1 encounter at home against Chelsea to manage only 7 points and an eventual exit from the Champions League.
Atletico Madrid is considered to be one of the best in the world and a Group stage exit in the Champions League shocked a large number of fans across the Globe. A drop into the Europa league didn’t do them any favors as the Griezmann to Barcelona rumors started surfacing and losing the talismanic striker was just something Atletico could not afford.
Slowly but surely things started changing for Atletico, they were progressing well in the La Liga trailing behind leaders and eventual Champions Barcelona and went all guns blazing in the Europa league. They began their campaign in the Europa League with a convincing thrashing of FC Kobenhavn, 5-1 on aggregate to announce themselves as favorites. They went on to beat Lokomotiv Moskva in the round of 16 with a healthy 8-1 margin on aggregate to progress to the Quarter-Finals where they were drawn with Portuguese giants . They managed to sneak through to the Semi-Finals despite a 1-0 loss in the second leg owing to a 2-0 victory in the first leg.
Arsenal was the next team, they were playing some good football and were highly motivated owing to Arsene Wenger’s departure at the end of the season. Atleti picked up a crucial away goal at the Emirates Stadium in a 1-1 draw and registered a good 1-0 performance in the second leg to progress to the final.
Though Atletico started the season on a low, they went on to defy the odds and finished the season on a high. Atletico isn’t a team built on star players or big transfer budgets. Its a team built on Hard work and character and these two qualities never go out of fashion.