Atlético’s first (and last) taste of success

Monday turned out to be a very happy start of the week indeed for Atlético Madrid.

The rojiblancos lifted the world’s most insanely heavy trophy and also managed to ruin their cursed neighbour’s start of the season. Abel ‘dead man walking’ Resino’s men were taking part in the annual Teresa Herrera match in La Coruña, where a carefully selected Spanish side travels to the north coast and gains a confidence boost ahead of the new season by beating Deportivo.  This time around it was Atlético who lifted the nine-feet tall, 8,000 kilos lighthouse-shaped trophy after a penalty shoot-out win in front of a packed, enthused 8,000 strong crowd. “Clearly we’re still lacking something to be at the required professional level,” admitted the Atleti boss realising that a 1-1 draw at the end of normal time is a tad embarrassing against a team fielding Riki.The rojiblancos will now begin their preparations for the upcoming Champions League qualifier double-header against Panathinaikos.

And this is where the second part of the side’s magic Monday cruises into port. The second leg tie will be taking place at the Vicente Calderón on Tuesday August 25. That happens to be the same day that Real Madrid had planned their Santiago Bernabeu trophy tie against AC Milan. UEFA’s regulations state that two big teams cannot play at the same time in the same city, so it is the Castle Greyskull club that have had to move the date of their gala game. But gone are the days when Ramon Calderón could just ring up his buddy Michel Platini and ask for a favour with a rule change, as he did during the Huntelaar / Lassana Diarra Champions League foul-up.

Not that his cunning plan worked that time, mind. So instead, Real Madrid have moved the date of the match back to Monday August 24. Unfortunately, AC Milan are hot property it would appear and are unable to attend. But after some rapid telephoning around the world of football to find a replacement, Norwegian side Rosenborg replied by saying that they were going to rent a DVD and maybe paint their nails but could come along to the Bernabeu instead.  Ã¢Â€ÂœIt’s possible that there isn’t a worse team in Europe,” sighs Roberto Palomar in Marca in response to the selection. “Perhaps Real Union are available?” is the helpful suggestion from one particular poster on Marca’s website on the side that knocked Madrid out of the Copa del Rey last season. Atlético Madrid were also buoyed by the news that, lead hate figure, Luis García looks set to be on his way to Racing Santander having spent last season being booed by the Vicente Calderón collective whenever he set foot on the pitch. All-in-all, it was a fine day for Atlético full of joy and success. La Liga Loca suspects that it’s not a phrase that is going to be repeated too often once the season gets going.

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