A player is sit in a football ground

Atlético live another tragedy in Lisbon

The rojiblancos are surpassed in the twilight of the match by a superior Leipzig and are left out of the semifinals

The Champions do not understand tradition or history. Nor look at the wrinkles on the shield. The important thing is the courage to ride in search of it and, above all, to deserve it. And last night, Atletico never deserved that cup that will have to wait for a better occasion. If there is, of course. Again he plunged into the abyss in Lisbon, a cursed city already in the history of the rojiblanco team. He hardly had answers for the intense fight that those hungry wolves from Leipzig proposed. Those of Simeone fell off the cliff when they thought they had the sky within their reach. A slap in the face in August that will sting for quite some time.

The tarps don’t beat. They give color and hide the emptiness of the stands but they do not vibrate and they shudder when the ball, their own or someone else’s, prowls with bad intentions. The sun was still embedded in a good part of the corners of the José Alvalade, when the chords of the Champions League enveloped a stadium that, like the rest of the planet, did not expect to find itself in such a situation because of a virus. Hence, the opening whistle of the Polish Szymon Marciniak, the same one who served as a notary in that Atlético Europa League in Lyon (2018), was almost felt on the busy asphalt that borders the Sporting green and white enclosure. There, late at night in Lisbon, a team that seemed destined to write the best symphony in its history was laid out.

With that same black uniform with which Anfield left in silence, Atlético appeared, five months later, in front of a Leipzig without the history or tradition of Liverpool, but with enough vitality and football to continue shouting in Europe. The stifling intentions of the German team should not have taken them by surprise, because Simeone does not usually leave anything unleashed. But for a long time, the Nagelsmann boys , with Kampl’s blonde ponytail as the helm, did an intense dance alongside the ball. Only Carrasco , from whose right hand came the most poisonous shot of his team at the start, and Lodi , from the left side, put some tension in the hearts of the dedicated Germans. OfMarcos Llorente , author of that beautiful story with Mersey and a pillar in the second act of LaLiga, was barely seen.

A Diego Costa , always happy to great battles, his lot was the burly Upamecano , that did not stop reminding him that was out there. The striker’s back, with each ball on his back, was left for a restful visit to the workshop. The French central defender, apart from Costa’s shadow, was the first to launch his spirited teammates into a stampede. No one could beat him all night. An organized group in continuous agitation, seamlessly interpreting the libretto of the young messiah who guides them from the bench. Leipzig pushed, yes, it came out like lightning, yes, it shook with energy, yes, but the truth is that Oblak, who does not understand superstitions, hence his yellow from head to toe with the number 13 on his back, he watched with a frozen pulse as the balls passed.

Savic had time to open his head in search of a ball in the center of the field that seemed inconsequential. And, as if his monumental collision with Halstenberg had been a tickle, the first thing he did, with his head well bandaged, was to jump for the first ball that approached him. There are situations in life that are not negotiated and he knows them well. Together with Giménez, he had to repel the attacks of Leipzig just as, next to Felipe, on that night at Anfield, he had to raise the wall in the face of hurricane red.

Atlético was slow, leaden and listless. Neither Koke nor Herrera had time to find some oxygen. Until Dani Olmo , that kid who could have dressed in rojiblanco, popping out like lightning, drew a stab with his head that not even Oblak managed to scare away and brought the Madrid team out of its reverie. Again running on the wire, as in that distant and happy last night of Champions.

It was time for Joao Félix , back to his beloved Lisbon, and Atlético’s cables, stripped until that moment, were reconnected. Nothing better than the imagination of a child to forget the precipice. Suddenly he spotted a gap between that herd of brave bulls and he entered as if nothing had happened until starting the penalty with which he brought his team back to life. With him, everything seemed to make sense again. But it was only a few moments. Atlético took a step back again and, once again encased by a brave Leipzig, ended up rushing into the void, rebounding and at sunset. Another wound that will take time to heal.

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