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The old Vicente Calderón still gets pulses racing


Spine-tingling night

As the final days of the Vicente Calderón draw nearer with every week that passes, you get the impression that emotions inside Atlético's old stadium are on the rise rather than fading. We have witnessed some magical Champions League nights, and also been left in trances of extreme emotion watching matches in domestic competition. The Copa del Rey tie against Barça took so many twists and turns that it turned into an unforgettable epic. And last night’s meeting against Celta was a similar, breath-taking white knuckle ride, with Atleti coming back twice after going 0-1 down and losing 1-2 with minutes to spare. The game also left us with a monumental gaffe from Moyà, a prodigious, nigh on impossible strike from Torres, another fluffed penalty and a mesmerizing finale with the team flying, energized by a crowd in complete ecstasy.

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Torres wonderstrike

Anyway, spending an evening down by the Manzanares is a worthwhile experience. Torres goal alone was worth the entrance fee, and so many things happened before and after it, especially afterwards. It’s strange how things have worked out for Torres, who Simeone always starts off leaving to one side then who ends up ahead of his competitors. It happened with Mandzukic in his first year, then with Jackson and Vietto, and it’s happening again now with Gameiro. Torres started behind the Frenchman in the pecking order and now is ahead of him. I’ve always closely observed how veteran players reach top form as the season wears on. Torres is now in a great moment, he’s quick and lucid. And Atlético look to him when it the going gets tough.

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Swashbuckling Atleti

And he even missed a penalty, the team's new curse – the team has now missed six out of the nine spot-kicks they have taken this season. But that is not the most striking thing about Atleti – they have completely changed their style. That strong, iron-clad, safe and efficient team who were sometimes tiring to watch has made way for a bold adventurous outfit. They have already conceded more goals that they did in the whole of last season. They don’t kill games off anymore; they suffer their ups and downs, but also stage remarkable reactions. Last night, quite a few disgruntled spectators started leaving the stadium with the score at 1-2. And for their lack of faith, they missed a rollercoaster end, which the faithful lapped up with glee. The old stadium has saved a reserve of emotions for its final year.