Would Simeone be better for Man City than Pep?
Complacency is an intolerable trait in Simeone's coaching DNA
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMI-FINAL, 2ND LEG
BAYERN MUNICH 2
(Xabi Alonso 31, Robert Lewandowski 74)
ATLETICO MADRID 1
(Antoine Griezmann 54)
2-2 on aggregate, Atletico win on away goals
European football's greatest production line just keeps on ticking along.
Single-handedly, Atletico Madrid have torn down the foundations of the tiki-taka dynasty.
With Barcelona, and their awe-striking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, long deposed, Bayern Munich were restricted to winning little more than the possession stakes in this Champions League semi-final, second-leg clash.
Manchester City could be forgiven for wondering whether they had plumped for the wrong manager standing on the Allianz Arena's touchline yesterday morning (Singapore time), following a thrilling European final that never was.
Pep Guardiola must be sick of the sight of his compatriots in this competition after Bayern were dumped out of the last-four stage by a La Liga side for a third successive season, to condemn his Bavarian tenure to a relative failure.
In that time, Diego Simeone has now guided Atletico to a second Champions League final.
The fiery Argentinian's approach continues to transform them from Spanish football's sleeping giants into its latest superpower.
As Guardiola turned to pragmatism in an unrelenting attempt to rail against the tide, the former midfield enforcer has successfully fashioned a team in his own image rather than that of perceived footballing perfection.
Atletico were once the makers of the marksmen at the Vicente Calderon, as Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa all graduated from their front-line ranks to the English Premier League.
Sooner rather than later, Antoine Griezemann will also follow suit, but Atletico now stand at the vanguard of another rising breed; formidable shot-stoppers.
Jan Oblak looks set to emulate the recent rises to prominence of predecessors David de Gea and Thibaut Courtois.
The Slovenian has already cast doubt on Manuel Neuer's long-standing status as Europe's No. 1 goalkeeper.
De Gea, the current heir, may soon have fresh competition when, like Griezmann, it will be only a matter of time before the EPL heavyweights are once again bearing down on the Spanish capital again.
When he could no longer tap into the well of emotional football, in the face of a sustained spell of Bayern pressure, Simeone turned to his powers of reinvention.
It has continued to serve him and Atletico well in recent years.
Only six of their 18-man squad who succumbed to Real Madrid in the Champions League final two seasons ago remain - five of them featured at the Allianz Arena yesterday morning.
Complacency remains an intolerable trait in his coaching DNA.
Introducing Yannick Carrasco on the left-hand side, after the interval, as Koke was allowed to counteract the hosts' ascendency was an inspired chessboard tactic that swung the power balance back in Atletico's favour.
There is a reason why he has become the master of these Champions League knock-out ties, now losing just one of eight two-legged affairs.
Armed with a water-tight foundation, banishing the pain of Lisbon in 2014 appears a certainty.
Xabi Alonso's deflected free-kick, to give Bayern a much-needed lead in the first half, was only the first time Atletico's defence had been breached in 633 minutes - over 10-and-a-half hours of play this season.
Not many would back Real or Man City to enjoy the freedom afforded by their previous opponents in the competition, regardless of which team make it through to the showpiece on May 29 at the San Siro in Milan.
They affectionately refer to Simeone as "El Cholo", in Madrid.
Referring to a street tough, it is a nickname which carries with more than a degree of accuracy. He is not simply a man in black, but a master of the dark arts.
Cheap tricks and outbursts are not beyond the 46-year-old.
Even on the cusp of victory, he could not resist one last shot of antagonism; unashamedly slapping a match official's arm as he agitatedly prowled the technical area during the final minutes of yesterday morning's encounter.
It is moments like this which is why his players stand steadfast behind him in a team spirit perhaps matched this season by only Leicester City.
Like the newly crowned EPL champions, the emotions and ideals of the Atletico players are mutually exclusive with those of their coach.
Atletico remain the undesirable, poor relations of the La Liga hierarchy, but neither they, nor Simeone, would have it any other way.
Torres: We can be champions
Fernando Torres is backing Atletico Madrid to lift the Champions League trophy in Milan, after Antoine Griezmann's crucial away goal fired them into the final at San Siro in Mlian on May 29.
Atletico reached their second Champions League final in three years, despite losing 2-1 at Bayern Munich yesterday morning (Singapore time) in the semi-final return leg as it finished 2-2 on aggregate.
After Atletico had beaten Bayern 1-0 in Madrid, Griezmann's crucial away goal in Munich means Diego Simeone's Atletico will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final.
"We want to win the tournament," said the 32-year-old Torres, who won the 2012 Champions League title while at Chelsea.
"We have the chance to create history and the opponents are irrelevant.
"We've beaten the champions of Holland, Spain and now Germany (PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Bayern) to get to the final.
"It was very intense and I'm so proud of this team. It's fully deserved and we're closer to our dream.
"When you play against a side like Bayern, you can't play the game you want. They created a lot of chances and put us under a lot of pressure.
"In the second half, we did things differently, pressed them high, counter-attacked and we got the goal.
"The most important thing is we're in the final."
Bayern went ahead with a Xabi Alonso free-kick just past the half-hour and could have scored again three minutes later, but Thomas Mueller's penalty was saved by Jan Oblak.
Atletico levelled through Frenchman Griezmann's seventh goal of this season's competition in the 54th minute, meaning Bayern would need at least two more goals to progress.
Bayern's Poland striker Robert Lewandowski set up a dramatic finale with his 74th-minute goal before Torres had an 85th-minute spot-kick saved by Manuel Neuer.
But it made no difference in the end, as Bayern suffered a third straight elimination by a Spanish team at this stage in their three seasons under Pep Guardiola.
"The best team went through," said Griezmann. "They might have been better (tonight).
"But we were better in the first leg. And we scored here tonight. The team that played best went through.
"It was a difficult game against tough opponents. We had to defend and try to score a goal. And we did that."
Atletico coach Simeone said he was stunned by his side's ability to cope with the stress in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of Munich's Allianz Arena.
"I really have to say we played against the best team I have faced in my whole career, it was unbelievable how they played," said Simeone. "It was great to see my team play with such intensity.
"When Bayern missed their penalty, we had a good chat at the half-time break and we coped with the pressure they put on us in the second half.
"We achieved our goal, we have seen that we are a very strong team, but we were really good defensively.
"Now we have beaten three of the strongest teams in Europe."
Having lost 4-1 to Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final, Atletico will now bid for their first European crown at the third attempt, having also lost the 1974 final - to Bayern.
"This is another chance for us to win the Champions league final. We have 15 days to prepare and whoever get through to the final will be just as prepared," replied Simeone when asked if he would prefer to play Real or City in the final. - Wire Services.
Antoine Griezmann (below, no. 7 antoine Griezmann (below, no. 7) is atletico’s top scorer in champions League history with nine goals. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP