Perennial losers Atletico uncomfortable with favourites tag against 'unknown' Fulham
The first job of AtlÃÂ©tico fans when realising their away goals-loving team had snuck through to a European final was not to pinch themselves to make sure they werenÃ¢ÂÂt dreaming, but to jam their hands into blenders to be 100% certain.
After all, this was something that not happened to the club for 24 years.
The second was to learn who the heckety-heck Ã¢ÂÂFuuulÃ¢ÂÂhamÃ¢ÂÂ were and, more importantly, how to pronounce their opponentÃ¢ÂÂs name.
But if anyone out there in blogland is having a chuckle at foreign types struggling with peculiar English pronunciation then just try ordering a train ticket to Valladolid after four pints or discussing CÃÂ©sarÃ¢ÂÂs AzpiliceutaÃ¢ÂÂs call up to Vicente del BosqueÃ¢ÂÂs 30-man Spain squad and see how you like them apples, Buster.
Although the average footie fan in Spain is quite familiar with the big knobs of the English game (and weÃ¢ÂÂre not talking Dion Dublin here, thank you very much) - and a little too familiar with the defensive stylings of Rafa BenÃÂtez to welcome him back to la Liga in hurry - Fulham is a more unknown concept full of obscure, peculiar players.
But then again, that was probably the same situation in England at the start of the season.
Since the end of the semi-final stage, the Spanish press have been familiarising themselves with WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs opponents and began by digging into the clubÃ¢ÂÂs recent history by profiling Mohamed Al-Fayed and listing where the mind-boggling Ã¢ÂÂ¬285 million spent on the squad has gone since he jumped onboard the then (old) second division club.
The final stage of the process was for Marca to dial up anyone and everyone Spanish playing in the Premier League to probe them thoroughly for their thoughts. And every footballer-in-English-exile came back with the same praise for a side that is considered solid and hardworking - two features that AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid can rarely be accused of.
Ã¢ÂÂIf they game doesnÃ¢ÂÂt open up early, it could be a 1-0, 0-0, or 0-1. I donÃ¢ÂÂt see a lot of goalsÃ¢ÂÂ says Pepe Reina whetting everyoneÃ¢ÂÂs appetite for the encounter.
Cesc Fabregas looks like he is in FulhamÃ¢ÂÂs closet with his feeling that Ã¢ÂÂitÃ¢ÂÂs true that AtlÃÂ©tico have more experience and are going into the game that little bit better, but Fulham have made an enormous leap in quality and have incredible confidence.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂFulham areorganisedin their style and give away very few goals,Ã¢ÂÂ notes SpainÃ¢ÂÂs forgotten man, Mikel Arteta. Ã¢ÂÂTheyÃ¢ÂÂre good at set-plays and tough to beat when they get ahead.Ã¢ÂÂ
A recent arrival to England, Michel Salgado, goes into even more detail by observing that Ã¢ÂÂfor the most part, Fulham always try to play with the ball. Then again, they have an alternative in playing it long to Zamora.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂIf the Atleti players go into the final thinking that they are favourites as everyone in the media says they are, then things will go badly for them. Fulham is a side that can win or turn a game in five minutes.Ã¢ÂÂ
And with that final comment, the former Real Madrid right-back has nailed the problem for AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid ahead of what could be a humdinger in Hamburg. The Rojiblancos are used to being the unfancied underdogs, the accident waiting to happen, the plucky losers looking for a break in life. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs what carried them through the final two rounds against Valencia and Liverpool.
Atleti are not accustomed to being the scary side from Spain...the slayer of civilizations...the bogeymen from Iberia...the favourites. And the sensation in WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs press is that this is a mindset that they are going to have to get used to and quickly if they are to crush the Cottagers.
iÃ¢ÂÂThis is a chance to change the perception people have about AtlÃÂ©tico and that AtlÃÂ©tico have about themselves,Ã¢ÂÂ writes Santiago Segurola in Marca. Ã¢ÂÂAtlÃÂ©tico must rid themselves of their fatalism,Ã¢ÂÂ notes WednesdayÃ¢ÂÂs editorial highlighting the biggest problem for the Rojiblancos.
If the dark, doubt-filled side of Atleti takes to the field against Fulham, then the team will surely lose. But if the AtlÃÂ©tico that beat BarÃÂ§a and Liverpool and boasts the talent of Kun and ForlÃÂ¡n turns up, then the players should put an end to fourteen forgettable years without a trophy for the perennial losers of la Liga.
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