Calderón gets send-off it deserves
Given this was all but certain to be Atlético Madrid's final game at the Vicente Calderón in UEFA club competition, everyone involved was treated to a wonderful 90-minute send-off. The Atlético fans genuinely believed they could do it and the atmosphere generated at the start was incredible.
Going 2-0 up in the first quarter of an hour sent the place into overdrive and while ultimately they did not get the desired result, the way the Calderón faithful stayed behind in pouring rain after the final whistle to show their appreciation for Atleti's efforts was something to behold.
Besides, they won on the night and Diego Simeone mentioned post-match that the victory could mark the end of their European hoodoo against their neighbours. The future at the Estadio Metropolitano will tell if he is right.
Atlético pay price for poor first leg
In the final reckoning, the damage was done last Tuesday when Real Madrid outclassed their city rivals 3-0. We are so used to seeing Atlético organised, well-drilled and compact, and that semi-final first leg was nothing of the sort.
Cristiano Ronaldo ran amok, bagging a hat-trick, and only Jan Oblak's heroics kept the scoreline respectable. While Atlético valiantly battled back in the return, a three-goal deficit was just too much to overturn and they will be left wondering what might have been had they played this well then.
Keylor is key
Madrid's defence has hardly been the tightest ship this season – last week's shut-out at the Santiago Bernabéu was their first clean sheet in this term's competition, and even then Keylor Navas was needed to smartly smother the onrushing Kevin Gameiro with the score at 1-0.
On Wednesday, with the Rojiblancos besieging the Madrid goal as they sensed a comeback, Navas truly did excel. His low stop from Koke within the first five minutes was impressive, while he dealt with several difficult crosses to ease the pressure on his team.
Most crucially, the double save when he thwarted Yannick Carrasco and then Gameiro ensured the visitors a much more comfortable last 25 minutes.
Modrić looking sublime
With Madrid under severe pressure in the opening half-hour, it would have been easy to go route one or even panic. Not Luka Modrić. The Croatian was the man demanding the ball from his defenders and he was always around to pick the pocket of an Atlético attacker if they dallied in possession for even a split-second.
There was one moment after about 20 minutes when he dribbled past two players in his own box and launched a counterattack. "He's so calm on the ball," Zinédine Zidane eulogised afterwards. "We know when he's got the ball he's never nervous and his experience proved pivotal for us tonight."
Madrid bid to make history
No side have successfully defended the UEFA Champions League title in its current format but Madrid, with their record in Europe, stand as good a chance as any to do so. They will go into next month's final against Juventus full of confidence and knowing their next goal in the tournament will be their 500th UEFA Champions League strike. Frame it like that, and you would not put a 1-0 victory past them.
Isco's goal here made it 61 consecutive games in which the Merengues have scored, so it will be a fascinating clash of styles when the rigidness of Juventus comes up against Madrid's attacking might in Cardiff.
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