Why recent Champions League history bodes well for Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid progressed to the semi-final stage of the Champions League on Wednesday night after beating Barcelona 2-1 on aggregate.

They've been the surprise package of the season in La Liga and in the Champions League, but they are certainly worthy of their place in the last four. They have a great chance of winning the two greatest prizes available to them. Atleti have certainly gone under the radar whilst most of the attention has been on Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Diego Simeone will fancy his club's chances of going all the way and recent Champions League history bodes well for his team. In the last six years the team who have knocked out Barcelona have always gone onto to win the competition.

Within this period Barça have of course won the competition twice themselves; in 2009 and 2011 beating Manchester United on both occasions. However in the four other years Barcelona have lost out to the eventual winners of the competition.

In 2008 Manchester United won their third title famously beating Chelsea on penalties in the final. United knocked out Barcelona in the semi final after a tight two-legged affair which ended 1-0 on aggregate. In 2010 Barça were again knocked out in the semi final after losing to a Jose Mourinho inspired Inter Milan side who went on to beat Bayern Munich in the final.

In 2012 they once again reached the last-four but could not get past a determined Chelsea side in a memorable encounter. Chelsea then of course beat Bayern Munich in the final on penalties with Didier Drogba scoring the all important penalty. Last season German domination put paid to Barcelona's chances as Bayern Munich beat them 7-0 on aggregate before beating Borussia Dortmund in the final.

The Spanish giants record in the Champions League has been superb of late, reaching the last four of the last six competitions. Perhaps this is the end of the era for the dominant Barcelona side. Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol will be departing at the end of the season with others coming towards the end of their careers. The transfer ban restricts them from improving the squad for a while as well.

It's Atletico Madrid's time to shine, and their gutsy, disciplined performances have deservedly got them to this stage. They may not quite boast the talent that Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Chelsea possess but whoever is drawn against Diego Simeone's side certainly won't be thinking it is an easy path to the final. Make no mistake about it, Atletico can go all the way this year.


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