Atletico Madrid not only saw off the challenge of AC Milan last night at the Vicente Calderon last night to advance to the Champions League quarter final stage, but absolutely obliterated the former European Champions with and aggregate score-line of 5-1. The victory largely went unnoticed as Bayern Munich eliminated Arsenal in the other tie played and that has been a trend for Madrid this season. They are ghosting under the competition and it is working wonders for them.
Having progressed to the quarter-finals, they are still at a price of 11/1, just in front of Chelsea, who are yet to advance, leaving little doubt that they are not valued as serious contenders for the trophy, which works in their favour. 11/1, is a great price for a side competing for their domestic league as well, as the confidence of a 4-1 demolition job can work wonders for weeks to come.
Diego Simeone’s men had a slender 1-0 lead going into the second leg, leaving many fans believing Atletico would soak up the pressure and hit Milan on the counter. The pressure rarely came however, giving Madrid plenty of room to manoeuvre the ball about the field and cause problems, evidenced by the whopping 4-1 score-line.
The result sees Atletico advance into the final eight of Europe’s elite competition and with the confidence such a large victory can bring, Madrid must be beginning to assess just exactly how far they can go in the Champions League this season. There is absolutely no reason why a side that are currently second in La Liga and made it to the semi-final stage of the Copa Del Rey this season cannot see off many, if not all of the challenges to come their way.
Granted, they still have the likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid to contend with, but luck appears to be with Atletico this year. Should Barcelona progress, then a major player in Manchester City will be removed from the competition, a side that Simeone would have no doubt wanted to avoid. Factor in the exits of Arsenal and possibly even Chelsea, who are currently held 1-1 on aggregate with Galatasaray, and the big guns are dropping like flies. Atletico were also handed a relatively straightforward group stage don’t forget, winning five of their six games.
The facts are, that Atletico have won all but one of their Champions League matches this season and with that sort of resiliency, they are a force to be reckoned with. Diego Costa, Arda Turan and Koke are all turning in impressive performances on a regular basis and there is no reason that this trio, combined with Ander Herrera when he is at his best, can wreak havoc across even the strongest defences that Europe has to offer.