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Saturday , March 28 2020

Atletico ‘ready to write’ CL history, says Torres – Europe remained a bridge too far for Pep’s Bayern

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak (center), blocks a shot by Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski (right), during the Champions League second leg semifinal soccer match between Bayern Munich and Atletico de Madrid in Munich, Germany on May 3. (AP)
Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak (center), blocks a shot by Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski (right), during the Champions League second leg semifinal soccer match between Bayern Munich and Atletico de Madrid in Munich, Germany on May 3. (AP)

MUNICH, May 4, (RTRS): Atletico Madrid are not seeking revenge for their 2014 Champions League final defeat but instead want to write a new chapter in the club’s history with their first European Cup after getting past Bayern Munich.

The Spanish side, who also lost the 1974 European Cup final to Bayern, advanced to the showpiece match on the away goals rule after losing 2-1 on Tuesday for a 2-2 aggregate result.

They got to the final two years ago, losing to Real Madrid, who face Manchester City at the Bernabeu in the other semi-final on Wednesday after a goalless first leg.

“We are not out for revenge,” said Atletico striker Fernando Torres, who set up the first goal and missed a late penalty.

“We want to write history. We have not won this trophy and we do not care who it will be, whether Real or Manchester City.

“It was not about revenge for 1974 tonight nor is the final about revenge. It is a new chance and maybe we can write some memories,” he added.

Diego Simeone’s Atletico, who can still win La Liga this season, eliminated Champions League holders Barcelona in the last round and their win over Bayern, who were chasing a treble, will further boost their confidence going into the final.

“It was good how we defended. We were disoriented in the first half and we could not find our footing. But we improved after the break and made it difficult for them,” Torres said.

“Then came the goal and that calmed us down. It was very difficult to play this game and we suffered but it is always important to score an away goal.”

Frenchman Antoine Griezmann netted in the 54th minute from a Torres layoff to cancel out Xabi Alonso’s first half opener and force Bayern to look for at least two more goals.

Robert Lewandowski got Bayern’s second in the 74th minute but, despite waves of attacks, they failed to score again.

“The first half saw a tremendous Bayern team with pressure, possession and us showing little response to the situation,” said coach Simeone.

“The second half was more even. We did a super counter-attack for the goal and that allowed us to get that advantage.”

The Argentine was shoed his passion throughout the game, even pushing a fellow club official for not calling for a substitution late in the contest.

“Becoming champions is very nice but very hard. We played with two of the top three teams in the world,” he said. “We have gone through a lot of suffering in Barcelona and here. But we advance to the final with a lot of joy.”

Departing Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola has been assured a bittersweet farewell at the German club with the pending celebration of a record fourth straight Bundesliga title soured by another failure to shine on the European stage.

For the third season in a row, Bayern crashed out of the Champions League in the semi-finals to Spanish opposition on Tuesday, a 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid not enough to prevent the Bavarians from losing on the away goals rule.

The Spaniard, who will join Manchester City next season, can still win two more trophies, the league and German Cup, but he will not go down as one of Bayern’s all-time great coaches, having never conquered Europe during his three-year stint.

His failure to clinch the Champions League means he will be unable to become the fifth Bayern coach to lift the continent’s most prestigious trophy, with the man he succeeded among the elite quartet to have achieved that feat.

Jupp Heynckes was told midway through the 2012-13 season that his contract would not be renewed to make way for Guardiola, who had taken a 12-month sabbatical after claiming 14 trophies in an astonishing four-year reign at Barcelona.

The German coach was unhappy at the way he was treated by Bayern but still went on to win their first-ever treble in 2013 and expectations were sky-high when Guardiola arrived in a whirlwind of media attention.

The 45-year-old enjoyed unprecedented freedom from Bayern club bosses from day one but his departure after the German Cup final later this month will be a far more subdued affair.

“Of course it was my aim to win this competition here,” said Guardiola, who led Barcelona to a pair of Champions League victories during his trophy-laden tenure in Spain.

“We tried our best and played as well as we could. But I am happy with my time here, I have enjoyed it here. We wanted to win the Cup but it does not change my time here.”

Guardiola’s success at Munich was always going to be measured by his exploits in Europe and three successive failures at the penultimate hurdle will cast a shadow over an otherwise stellar performance on the domestic front.

“Titles are just statistics. I can just tell you that I gave everything for my players. I worked hard to adapt to the Bundesliga and make my players better. I have no regrets,” he said.

Guardiola can still usher in a record fourth consecutive league title this week and add a German Cup to the five trophies he captured in his first two years in Germany but while he has no regrets, his captain does.

“We have to look forward now,” Philipp Lahm said. “We can win the league title and then also have the Cup final (against Borussia Dortmund).

“It can still become a good season but it is sad that we could not reward our coach and his coaching team with a goodbye in the (Champions League) final.”

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