Atletico can win Champions League insists Fernando Torres as they oust Bayern to reach final
Antoine Griezmann’s crucial away goal fires Spaniards into final
Fernando Torres is backing Atletico Madrid to lift the Champions League trophy in Milan after Antoine Griezmann’s crucial away goal fired them into the final on May 28.
Atletico reached their second Champions League final in three years, despite losing 2-1 at Bayern Munich on Tuesday in the semi-final return leg as it finished 2-2 on aggregate.
After Atletico had beaten Bayern 1-0 in Madrid, Griezmann’s crucial away goal in Munich means Diego Simeone’s Atletico will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final.
“We’re delighted,” said Griezmann.
“It was difficult, a really hard game. We had a great opponent in front of us and we had to both defend and try to score. That’s what we did.
“They were better, but we scored an away goal, which was important.”
Atletico, level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga with two games of the campaign left, face a busy few weeks.
“We need to keep grounded and first of all think in the Liga before the final,” added Griezmann.
Bayern and coach Pep Guardiola will rue Thomas Mueller’s saved first-half penalty just after Xabi Alonso had given the hosts the lead by crashing home a first-half free-kick.
There was similar drama in the second half when Manuel Neuer saved Torres’ late penalty attempt for Atletico.
“We want to win the tournament,” said the 32-year-old Torres, who won the 2012 Champions League title while at Chelsea.
“We have the chance to create history and the opponent is irrelevant.
“We’ve beaten the champions of Holland, Spain and now Germany [PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Bayern] to get the final.
“It was very intense and I’m so proud of this team.
“It’s fully deserved and we’re closer to our dream.
“When you play against a side like Bayern, you can’t play the game you want.
“They created a lot of chances and put us under a lot of pressure.
“In the second half, we did things differently, pressed them high, counter attack and we got the goal.
“The most important thing is we’re in the final.”
Simeone said he was stunned by his side’s ability to cope with the stress in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Munich’s Allianz Arena.
“I really have to say we played against the best team I have faced in my whole career, it was unbelievable how they played,” said Simeone.
“It was great to see my team play with such intensity.
“When Bayern missed their penalty, we had a good chat in the half-time break and we coped with the pressure they put on us in the second half.
“We achieved our goal, we have seen that we are a very strong team, but we were really good defensively.”
Simeone also singled out Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak and Neuer for their saves to deny Mueller and Torres respectively.
“They were two great saves by the goalies, I have to say how difficult it is to cope with this situation at Bayern, playing away from home. It’s unbelievable what we have achieved,” said Simeone.
“Now we have beaten three of the strongest teams in Europe.”
Having lost 4-1 to Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final, Atletico will now bid for their first European crown at the third attempt having also lost the 1974 final – to Bayern.
“This is another chance for us to win the Champions league final. We have 15 days to prepare and whoever gets through to the final will be just as prepared,” replied Simeone when asked if he would prefer to play Real or City in the final.