Champions League: Beat Barcelona and then win the title?
Zee Media Bureau/Rajdeep Saha
New Delhi: Will Atletico Madrid repeat the success, others have had by beating Barcelona over last six seasons? As per the current scenario, yes, why not! Since 2007-08 season of the Champions League, whichever team has beaten Barcelona in the knock-out stages have gone on to win the coveted trophy. In this six-year period, the Catalans have won the title twice. In the four other seasons, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Bayern Munich have emerged champions and they all beat Barca in the knock-out stages.
Atletico Madrid will be hoping to repeat the same after completing a stunning victory against Chelsea in the semi-finals of the Champions League second leg encounter on Wednesday. The Diego Simeone coached side face Madrid rivals, Real in the final which is to be held in Lisbon. Atletico had earlier beaten Barcelona 2-1 over two legs in the quarter-finals. The La Liga leaders are the only team to remain unbeaten this season in the Champions League and will like to emulate the 2007-08 champions, Manchester United. The latter were the first team in the history to win the trophy without losing a single game.
Atletico have played like warriors all through the season with the limited squad they possess without many world class names. The Barca-factor doesn`t guarantee them victory in Lisbon but history has been in favour of the sides who overcame Barca in the last six years. Real go in as favourites in Lisbon but Atletico could well stage a commanding victory.
In 2007-08, Manchester United beat Barcelona in the semifinals and it all started from there. Paul Scholes` brilliance ensured the Red Devils play an all-English final against Chelsea. United won the match via penalty shoot-out. In 2008-09, Manchester United were again in the final and this time they faced Barcelona at Wembley. Barca won 2-0 in an one-sided affair and prevented the holders their second title in a row. In 2009-10, Jose Mourinho`s Inter Milan played one of their best matches in history of the game when they overcame Barcelona in the semifinal. Inter who were reduced to 10 men in the second leg, defended valiantly and sealed a place in the final against Bayern Munich. Inter won the game 2-0 and the trend continued.
The following season saw a repeat of the 2008-09 final between Manchester United and Barcelona and the latter emerged victorious again. Pep Guardiola`s side beat United 3-1 and won their second title in three years. In the 2011-12 season, Roberto di Matteo`s 10-man Chelsea defended their teeth out to edge past Barca in the last four and won the title against a much fancied Bayern Munich via penalty shoot-out. Last season saw Bayern thrash Barca 7-0 over the two-legged tie in the semi-finals. The Bavarians then went on to beat fellow German rivals Borussia Dortmund in the finals to win the title.
Atletico will look to be the third team in succession after Chelsea and Bayern- who have beaten Barca and went on to win the title.