Just a month ago, the prospect of an all Spanish European Champions League final looked like a bit of a shoe in, while in the Europa League final it was a guaranteed fact that at least one Spanish side would be there, as there were three meeting in the semis.
As it turned out both Barcelona and Real Madrid surprisingly stuttered at the last leg and will need to look to next year to provide soccer lovers with the final that everyone dreamed of, apart from those from Chelsea and Munich.
However, Madrid were represented in at least one European soccer final this year, when the perennial poor relation of Spain’s capital, Athletico Madrid came up against under team of Athletics, this time Bilbao from the Basque region in the North of Spain.
Bilbao, also fall under the shadow of Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain, but then again who doesn’t. However, when they comfortably defeated an admittedly fading Manchester United, winning both legs in the eighth round, it looked like their larger than life Chilean coach Marcelo Bielsa had the talent and the charisma to push Bilbao forward to new heights.
But when it came down to last’s nights final, held in Bucharest, it was the boys from Madrid who shone through and in some style winning comfortably 3-0.
Star of the show for Athletico Madrid was Colombian striker Radamel Falcao who scored a double. Falcao goals earned him not just a winner’s medal; but also the distinction of being one of a small band of players who have scored in two consecutive European soccer finals, having scored the winner for Porto in last year’s Europa League final, also becoming the first player to win successive Europa League Cups with different sides.
Falcao scored the first for Madrid with just seven minutes on the clock to know the wind out Bilbao’s sails before they could settle, and finished the job with a brilliantly conceived second making his tally for the competition a creditable twelve. Athletico’s veteran Brazilian midfielder Diego put the icing on the cake for Madrid with a third goal with seven minutes remaining.
Athletico’s victory was celebrated in great style by the players and no less so by late in their Argentinean coach Diego Simeone, who had only joined the club a few months previously. With Athletico more notorious than most Spanish clubs for their turnover in managers, Simeone must surely have been thinking just how much time will that victory will keep him in the job.
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