Atletico returns to European final to shed jinx

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 23, 2014 at 2:31 am •  Published: May 23, 2014

During its Spanish league title winning run this season, Atletico did the near unthinkable — it did not stumble or implode as might have been expected.

Instead, coach Diego Simeone's team showed the verve of a champion and a knack for coming through when it counted to secure a fourth major trophy since 2009/10 — following two Europa League titles and a Copa del Rey.

"The club is growing. We're pushing forward, building a stronger team, getting better — despite the economic differences in this league," said Simeone, who has also relied on one of the top qualities of the 1974 team — strength on the counterattack.

Atletico won the Intercontinental Cup after losing to Bayern, and it has an impressive trophy haul overall: 10 Spanish league titles, 10 Copa del Reys, one Cup Winners Cup, two Europa Leagues and two European Super Cups.

"It's been seven or eight years now that 'pupas' doesn't follow us anymore," Atletico President Enrique Cerezo said after the club secured its first league title since 1996 last Saturday. "When Calderon labeled the team that, it certainly was at that time. Maybe now they should call us 'the good luck ones.'"

That could be difficult as Atletico almost seems to embrace the nickname at times, like when it celebrated the 40th anniversary of its lone European Cup final defeat last week.

"Atletico does represent something different, something special," said Spanish coach Javier Irureta, who played against Bayern. "Usually they only organize homages for champions, not for the losers.

"But the club is like that."


Associated Press Writer Jorge Sainz contributed to this report.


Follow Paul Logothetis on Twitter: