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ATLÉTICO MADRID

Five reasons Atlético Madrid are Champions League finalists

Defensive security

Atlético shipped a mere four goals during their six group stage games. And despite coming up against the likes of Barcelona (22 Champions League goals) and Bayern Munich (30), the rojiblancos have booked their place in the Milan final having conceded five goals and scoring six during their six knockout encounters with the Dutch, Spanish and German champions. Simeone’s men have kept a whopping eight cleansheets during this year’s Champions League campaign.

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The Vicente Calderón

The 54,000-seater ground on the banks of the Manzanares has been a veritable fortress for the colchoneros in recent seasons. Atleti have gone seven straight knockout-stage games without conceding at home: Barça (twice), Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Madrid, PSV and Bayern Munich. Kaká was the last opposition player to breach the Madrid club’s net. The Brazilian managed to get consolation goal for AC Milan in an otherwise one-sided affair which finished 4-1 in the LaLiga side’s favour.

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Penalty shootout against PSV

The Dutch outfit held out for 210 minutes against Atlético in the round of 16 to force a nail-biting penalty shootout. Both teams kept their nerve from twelve yards after a grueling scoreless second-leg tie at the Calderón, with 15 of the 16 spot kicks finding their way to the back of the onion bag. Narsight smashed his effort off the crossbar deep into sudden death before Juanfran stepped up to convert the winner as a collective wiping of Atleti brows occurred on the halfway line.

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The first half at home to Barça

Atlético came flying out of the traps at the C amp Nou in search of an away goal, and they got what they were looking for in the 24th minute thanks to Fernando Torres. El Niño only lasted another ten minutes after that, as two reckless challenges on Neymar and Busquets earned him an early shower and forced the rojiblancos to shut up shop for the rest of the first leg. Barcelona managed to score twice through Luis Suárez after the break to swing the tie in their favour ahead of the return leg in the capital. But once again Simeone’s troops hit the ground running and pushed the culés deep into their own half. Griezmann scored on the brink of half-time and then hammered a final nail in the Barça coffin in the 87th minute from the penalty spot.

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Saúl, Griezmann and Oblak

The Mattress Makers overcame Bayern Munich in the semi-finals courtesy of the away goal rule (2-2 on aggregate). Saúl scored a beaut in the Vicente Calderón, beating four men before tucking the ball into Manuel Neuer’s bottom-right corner. Fernando Torres came close to getting a second in the first leg when his outside-of-the-boot strike came crashing off the post and Alaba almost equalised with a 30-yard thunderbolt that sent shockwaves through Oblak’s goalframe. The Slovenian keeper had a colossal performance at the Allianz Arena, keeping out a Múller-struck penalty and making nine saves to deny Bayern a place in the final. Griezmann got the all-important away goal to rubberstamp Atleti’s victory.

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