Last-gasp losers: History repeats itself for Atletico

There was a sad sense of deja vu for the Vicente Calderon side as their defeat in Lisbon mirrored the frustrating loss to Bayern Munich in Belgium

By Stewart Weir

The jubilation and euphoria shared amongst players and fans of Real Madrid following their Champions League success will be matched by the abject misery felt by their counterparts across the city.

Atletico lost in Lisbon when it appeared they had one hand on the famous trophy: a shattering blow. But for those familiar with their club’s background, it must have been like history repeating itself, giving them every right to wonder if any club in Europe has ever come that close to winning the famous trophy twice.


 v BAYERN 15/5/1974
Aragones ‘114 ‘120 Schwarzenbeck
 v BAYERN 17/5/1974
    28′ Hoeness
    58′ Muller
    71′ Muller
    83′ Hoeness

When Sergio Ramos powered his equalising header past Thibaut Courtois seconds from the end of Saturday’s biggest ever derby clash, it would have brought back some numbing memories of events 40 years before, in Atleti’s only previous appearance in the premier European club final.

The Spanish team had beaten Galatasaray, FC Dinamo Bucuresti and FK Crvena Zvezda to reach the semi-finals where they met Celtic – a considerable force in Europe at that time.

Atletico’s tactics in Glasgow were to nullify the opposition. The game ended 0-0, but such was the level of the Spaniards’ brutality towards their opponents – and in particular Jimmy Johnstone – that the game has remained in Scottish footballing folklore.

As an aside, some would see it quite ironic (maybe even with a dash of justice) that many of Celtic’s famous Lisbon Lions made the trip back to Portugal for this season’s climax and the scene (in terms of the city, not the stadium) of their greatest triumph.

Back in time at the Vicente Calderon, the Madrid side defeated Celtic 2-0, setting up a final at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels against Bayern Munich, a team which contributed the core of the West German national team.

In the final, both teams cancelled each other out through 90 minutes and well into extra time. Atletico though, eventually broke the deadlock just seven minutes from time when (the legendary) Luis Aragones swept a free-kick past Sepp Maier.

However, thereafter things went horribly wrong for Atleti. Just 20 seconds from the end, central defender Georg Schwarzenbeck lumbered forward to become the unexpected goal hero, outdoing the normally prolific Gerd Muller in much the same way as stopper Ramos trumped Cristiano Ronaldo.

Forty years ago, the final went to a replay (played two days later at the same venue), when Bayern won 4-0, with strike duo Muller and Uli Hoeness scoring two apiece. On Saturday night, Real Madrid also bagged four, once Gareth Bale and Ronaldo got their act together.

It’s easy to see why some Atletico fans across the generations are experiencing deja vu today.

Of course, they may soon forget events in Lisbon. 1974 was a World Cup year and Schwarzenbeck went on to play his part in helping West Germany become champions of the world. Who can say Sergio Ramos won’t do the same later this summer for Spain?

It just might be difficult for Atletico fans to feel that much empathy over the coming weeks …

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