Real Madrid will take their place in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, yet Diego Simeone feels it would have been Atletico had Arda Turan not been sent off.
Following a goalless first-leg draw at the Vicente Calderon last week, the tie between the two Madrid powerhouses was finely poised heading into the return at the Bernabeu. However, Turan was dismissed with 14 minutes remaining for a second bookable offence, and Javier Hernandez went on to score a late winner to send Real through to the semi-final for a fifth successive season.
This was a bitter blow for the Spanish champions, who were on the brink of lifting the Champions League for a first time last term until Real scored a leveller in the dying minutes of a final they went on to win. So Simeone was eager to avenge that defeat this time round, and he feels his players were in control of proceedings until the red card was shown to his Turkish star.
There’s no sense in talking about Arda’s red card, it will change nothing,” the Atletico coach said. “But until then we were controlling the game. We competed well, I am proud. We have a team of men who work, have pride and I am very grateful. There are many coaches that envy me for having this team. We congratulate our rivals and now we have to think about Saturday.”
For Real, they remain on course to become the first team to retain the Champions League title since it replaced the old European Cup format back in 1992. Their presence in the draw for the semi-final on Friday will be a record 31st time they have reached such a stage in the history of the competition, as they seek to lift the giant pot for a record-extending 11th time next month.
Juventus, meanwhile, will join Los Blancos in the draw. The Italians beat Monaco 1-0 in France last week, and this Carlos Tevez goal proved enough to send them through after a goalless draw in the second-leg. This is the first time the Bianconeri have made the last four since 2003, when they went on to beat Milan in the Old Trafford final to win the competition for the fifth time.
Would Atletico Madrid have progressed to the last four had Turan not been sent off, and are Juventus genuine contenders to win the competition for the first time in 12 years?