Atletico Madrid Reaches 1st Champions League Semi-Final in Club History

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Atletico Madrid Reaches 1st Champions League Semi-Final in Club History
Paul White

With a 1-0 win Wednesday, Atletico Madrid stunned Spanish competitors Barcelona to advance to the first Champions League semi-final in club history.

Of course, the Champions League era didn't begin until 1993, but nonetheless, Atleti's last appearance in the final four of the European Cup came in 1974, almost exactly 40 years ago.

A 1-1 draw at Barcelona in the tie's first leg set the stage for Atleti to defend their home field against La Liga's highest-scoring team.

With a hamstring injury ruling out top striker Diego Costa—scorer of 32 goals in 36 total appearances this season—Atleti manager Diego Simeone was bound to focus on preventing the Catalan's from netting an away goal.

However, when Atletico midfielder Koke struck five minutes into Wednesday's match, Simeone's side nearly followed with an offensive onslaught, but three shots hit the woodwork to limit the damage to 1-0 early on.

From there, Atleti's size and strength frustrated a Barcelona outfit centered on clever one-touch passing movements. While the Catalans totaled 71 percent of possession throughout the match, Atleti constantly broke up their attacks, evidenced by a remarkable 38 tackles and 74 percent aerial success, per WhoScored.com.

Despite those lopsided statistics, Barcelona came dangerously close to equalizing late in the game, when supporters at the Vicente Calderon Stadium held their collective breaths as Atleti also squandered numerous scoring chances to leave the tie's result in the balance.

Ultimately, referee Howard Webb blew the contest dead, sparking audible joy from the home faithful and handing Barcelona their earliest Champions League exit in seven years.

Now in the company of in-city rivals Real Madrid, Germany's Bayern Munich and English side Chelsea, Atletico Madrid hopes to build on an already historic run.

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