By Visesh Rathi
UEFA Champions League SemiFinals : Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid
When your team is down three goals at a major European trophy, the only way to advance would be to go out all guns blazing and give it a real shot (ask Barca), because even otherwise you are out of the tournament and there is nothing to lose anyway. This is what Simeone had prepared his Atleti team for- as they showed desire and intent which combined with the infectious upbeat mood of the fans in the final European game at the Calderon almost became lethal for their city rivals. Oblak made a fantastic save to deny Casemiro, a goal that would have literally put out the already flickering Atleti flame at the start itself. Rather, the hosts scored at the twelfth minute as Koke’s corner was headed in by Niguez. Four minutes later, Torres barged into the box only to be fouled by Varane and the resulting penalty, scored by Griezmann, sent the Calderon into eruption as now there was a belief that a major upset was possible. It was within sight and Simeone, frantic as ever urged his team and supporters for more. But Real Madrid, twice champions in the past three years, weathered the storm and kept Atletico at bay, while their own famed attack started finding momentum, with Isco and Benzema aided by Kroos and Modric, foraying forward more. One particular moment of magic from Benzema saw him somehow wriggle past three defenders to cross for Kroos, whose effort was saved by Oblak, only for the rebound to be put in by Isco. All of a sudden, the equations changed as Atletico had to score three goals in forty five minutes to advance.
Real began the second half on front foot, which saw Ronaldo’s free kick saved by Oblak. Griezmann as well, saw his free kick loop just over the bar and Gameiro failed to make the most of another counter attack opportunity. In the other end Ronaldo saw his effort ruled offside and Benzema missed by a whisker after Navas was forced into a fine save from Griezmann. The dying moments saw Real play out the time to meet Juventus at Cardiff, which looks set to be an amazing game where Juve’s defense will be tested by Real’s attack.