Lock up your daughters, Atleti are back!

Merciful Zeus! Atlético Madrid have done it!La Liga Loca can finally pack their lunch box, hand over the bus fare and wave at them from its front door wiping tears from its eyes. The rojiblancos are going out into the Big Wide World. The rojiblancos have grown up on us. Even now the blog is flicking through the photo album, wondering how quickly time has passed. Look, there’s Atleti losing to some Hungarians in the Intertoto Cup. And who can forget the moment when they failed to score against Bolton in 180 minutes of football. Happy days.

Bowing out vs Bolton: Ah the good old days

La Liga Loca is a little shamefaced this morning, and must confess that it didn’t think that Atleti would make it through their Champions League death match against Schalke. It was all doomy and gloomy and felt that the legendary guile and cunning of the dastardly Germans would be too much for the legendary complete lack of guile and cunning of the rojiblancos. As La Liga Loca approached the Vicente Calderón on Wednesday night, it could smell The Fear. Even simian singer Ian Brown was doing laps of the stadium on a tiny bike. It could also smell lager. And an awful lot of jazz cigarettes. But from the opening minute of the match in front of a boisterous and barmy home crowd, you could feel that everything was going to be ok. Ujfalusi and Heitinga had everything all under control, Perea looked less terrified than normal at the thought of touching the ball and the midfield was very nifty. Atlético Madrid were calm, comfortable and composed - a phrase rarely used with this particular team. Rather like “Deportivo really are the entertainers of the league!” and “Betis must be everyone’s second favourite club!” The star of the Champions League show was the majestic Kun Agüero who proved that Gianina is not the only aspect of Maradona that is rubbing off on him these days. The Argentine striker danced and pranced his way though the opposition defence in the same way that Arizmendi doesn’t.

Agüero sets the rojiblancos on their way

Even the crowd played a blinder on Wednesday night with the delightful Atleti Ultras managing to overcome their normal testosterone-fuelled urges to hurl seats, launch firecrackers, chuck bottles, and ram raid opposition fans.However, to make sure that they didn’t go back to Mummy all tense and uptight, they decided to have a big old rumble amongst themselves, instead. With the omnipresent, clipboard-wielding UEFA officials hanging around, even the “Factory Air Club” lap dancing advert was pulled from the scoreboard advertising, making Maniche’s decision to take a pen and paper out onto the pitch with him look more than a little silly. The same precision and order that Atlético Madrid displayed on the pitch disappeared completely during the post match press conferences. While stunned Schalke boss Fred Rutten was fielding question number 14 from the inquisitive German press, a lady from TVE interrupted him and told him to button it as they wanted to hear from Javier Aguirre and talk to the players.The Schalke press officer just shrugged repeatedly, gave them the mental finger and ensured that he called on another 15 journalists much to the rancour of the local rojiblancos press team - none of whom spoke a word of English nor German which did not ease the prickly Teutonic tensions.

"Pile on..." Atletico celebrate Champions League progression 

By all accounts there were fun and games in the Real Madrid press room too, with Bernd Schuster in fine sulky, tutting form. As usual the German coach looked as if he enjoyed his job as much as Guti relishes the idea of reading as he discussed a friendly game against Sporting Lisbon where Real Madrid were 5-1 up by half-time. “Our rivals helped us a lot because they thought the game started at 11," deadpanned Bernd. On growing tired over the endless questions concerning Robinho, Santi Cazorla and David Villa, the Real Madrid coach announced that “I’m tired now and I want to go home.” Considering it would have been close to one in the morning at the time, La Liga Loca stands by Bernd. Unsurprisingly the knives are out for Ramón Calderón on Thursday. The daisy petal-pulling La Liga Loca is well used to being rejected twice in one day. Normally with restraining orders. But this is a sensation that Real Madrid have had to get used to suddenly. Despite Marca’s Roberto Gómez crawling claims that the Real Madrid president is so honourable he would never, ever, ever make a bid for a Primera player less than two weeks before the close of the transfer window, the Real Madrid president made a bid for two players, less than two weeks before the close of the transfer window.And as everyone knows by now, both failed. Valencia president, Vicente Soriano had a pop at his capital city rival by pouting that “Madrid has the right to make an offer until the last moment but I don’t like their methods.”

Equally as stinging was Villarreal big cheese Fernando Roig, who noted that “when I want to sign someone, I do it directly and to their face.”

Cazorla: Another reported Madrid target fails to materialise

So what does Gómez have to say about all this? Nada, Nowt, Nichts, that's what. Instead, the freebie-loving funster wrote about his big day out at the Vicente Calderón where he chose to focus on the stunning news that José María Bernal, “the man responsible for the territorial co-ordination of the Community of Madrid,” was at the Champions League game. Whats more, Gómez mentioned him before Maradona. Sport have leapt upon Real Madrid’s transfer issues with José Luis Carazo attacking Calderón’s “verbal incontinence where one day it’s yes and another day something else.”

On a sadder note, it was one year ago today that Sevilla and Spain’s Antonio Puerta passed away after collapsing on the pitch during game against Getafe the previous weekend.A suitable time to enjoy this moment of brilliance from Puerta's 'diamond left foot' once again.

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