The tragic history of Atletico Madrid in the European Cup

Atletico Madrid yet again failed to clinch their first ever European Cup despite coming within touch distance of the trophy. Diego Simeone’s men lost to city rivals Real Madrid in the Milan final 5 – 4 on penalties. It seems as an opportune a time as any to revisit their past in this historic competition.

And sadly for the Atletico Madrid faithful it has been very tragic.

Los Rojiblancos reached their first European Cup final in 1974 and were up against German giants Bayern Munich in the summit clash. The match proved to be an intense affair and the lack of any goals at the end of the 90 minutes saw the referee blow his whistle for extra time.

Atletico Madrid, who had dispatched Galatasaray 1-0 on aggregate, Dinamo Bucharest 4-2, Red Star Belgrade 2-0 and Celtic 2-0 on their way to the final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels, took the advantage in the 114th minute of the final courtesy of an exquisite free kick from the talismanic Luis Aragones.

With a goal up and only six minutes to go before the final whistle, the match and with it a first European Cup looked in the bag for the red and white half of Madrid. However, fate had other plans. Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, a centre-back who hardly ever ventured too far forward, decided in the 120th minute that it was as good a time to try his luck from distance.

Despite a mass of bodies between the defender and the goal as he took his shot, the ball somehow found a way past Miguel Reina to tie the match 1-1.

With no provision of penalty shootouts in those days, a rematch was held two days later and it turned out to be a completely different game. Bayern Munich ran away 4-0 winners courtesy of a brace each from Uli Hoeness and Gerd Muller to shatter Atletico Madrid’s dreams in the most cruel way.

Highlights of the 1974 final:

Video courtesy: andreas210365.

Los Colchoneros had to wait 40 years for their next European Cup final. In the summit clash of the 2014 edition of the Champions League they had Real Madrid to defeat in order to be crowned European champions for the first time in their history.

They were dealt two cruel blows in the final as the influential Arda Turan was deemed unfit for the game in Lisbon, while key striker Diego Costa had to come off in the ninth minute owing to an injury.

However, Atletico Madrid proved tough nut to crack and on the back of their stellar defence, kept Real Madrid at an arm’s length. They took the lead through a Diego Godin goal and were cruising towards win before a Sergio Ramos header in second half injury time saw the ghosts of the 1974 final pay an unwanted visit for Atletico Madrid.

The goal visibly shattered Diego Simeone’s men and as they failed to keep up their intensity in extra time, Real Madrid made merry and romped home to a 4-1 win.

Highlights of the 2014 Champions League final

Video courtesy: UEFA.tv

The defeat, as it came at the hands of a fierce derby rival – especially as it gave them their coveted tenth European Cup, was hard for Atletico Madrid to take.