October 28, 2016

Atletico get chance for revenge

Bayern Munich destroyed Atletico Madrid’s dreams of winning the European Cup in 1974 and are out to wreck their hopes of reaching a second Champions League final in three years when they visit the Spanish capital for the semi-final first leg.

In the final in Heysel 42 years ago, an equaliser from defender Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck in the final minute of extra time cancelled out Luis Aragones’ opening goal and forced a replay, in which Bayern ran out 4-0 winners.

That outcome led to contrasting fortunes for both clubs-Bayern went on to win three consecutive European Cups and are now bidding for their sixth triumph in manager Pep Guardiola’s last season in charge before taking over at Manchester City.

Atletico are still haunted by the memory of Schwarzenbeck’s goal, which prompted the nickname “el pupas” (the cursed ones).

History repeated itself 40 years later when Atletico led Real Madrid 1-0 in the Champions League final and Sergio Ramos headed in a 93rd-minute equaliser to force extra time before going on to thrash the Rojiblancos 4-1.

Four decades after Schwarzenbeck robbed them of glory, Atletico are still chasing their first European Cup, yet are emboldened in their bid to go all the way this year after knocking out holders and favourites Barcelona in the quarter finals.

They beat Malaga 1-0 on Saturday thanks to substitute Angel Correa’s second-half strike to stay level on points with Barcelona, who top La Liga due to their superior head-to-head record.

Bayern maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga by winning 2-0 at Hertha Berlin with second-half goals from Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa. A victory at home to Borussia Monchengladbach next week will see Bayern clinch a third successive title under Guardiola.

Bayern have also reached the German Cup final yet many believe the former Barcelona coach will have under-achieved at the club should he fail to win the Champions League.

Midfielder Xabi Alonso rejected that suggestion, however, highlighting the Catalan’s positive influence.

“I’ve no doubt his time here will leave an important base, independently of whether we have a fantastic end to the season or not. Our memories of him will be brilliant, and he won’t be a failure if we didn’t win the Champions League,” said Alonso.

Atletico are the third Spanish team Bayern have met in as many years in the semi-finals, having been knocked out by Real Madrid in 2014 and Barcelona last year.

Atletico are without influential centre back Diego Godin due to a hamstring injury, while Bayern will be missing forward Arjen Robben and defender Jerome Boateng.

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