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Why Champions League Loss Will Not Taint Atletico Madrid's Season

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 18:  Club Atletico de Madrid fans celebrate as they wait for the players after their tenth La Liga title at Neptuno Square on May 18, 2014 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistMay 24, 2014

Atletico Madrid were mere minutes away from being crowned the kings of Europe when Sergio Ramos headed home the equalizer. Los Colchoneros then saw their hopes crushed as Real Madrid drummed three more goals past Thibaut Courtois in extra time.

For many, a collapse appeared inevitable. It seemed like every time Atletico were counted out, they stood firm and refused to go down. Yet the wheels had to come off at some point.

After lifting the La Liga title for the first time in over a decade, it seemed like a double was too good to be true. Though Diego Simeone's side had the world behind them, there was an unnerving feeling that they would not be able to topple Real Madrid.

Football fans will look back on this match as the day La Decima was finally captured. After a 12-year wait, Real Madrid won their 10th European trophy. But what about Atletico?

The Cinderellas of the footballing world were not able to hurdle the last obstacle, but that doesn't mean that the race was pointless. Just because Atletico lost the Champions League final doesn't mean their season will carry a dark cloud over it.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Looking back to the beginning of the season, Atletico weren't supposed to be here.

Everyone wanted Los Colchoneros to be competing for title this season, but no one expected them to last this long in the league or in Europe. Simeone's team proved everyone wrong and became the feel-good story of European football.

Most times, it is really hard to look past failures. Atletico players and fans will be thinking of how they were minutes away from becoming the Champions League winners, though they cannot dwell on what wasn't. Instead, Atletico deserve all the praise in the world for what they did achieve.

The league title wasn't supposed to be theirs. In a league that has been dominated by only two teams for over 10 years, Atletico bucked the trend to end the two-horse race.

Simeone's side proved that money isn't everything. It is a team's spirit, cohesiveness and the will to win that defines who you are. They were not afraid to face their biggest tests head on and lived to reap the benefits.

Even their run to the Champions League final is a testament of what Atletico represented this season. 

Getting out of the group stage was impressive enough, but Atletico continued by making their way past the likes of Chelsea and Barcelona to reach the final. They faced two massive clubs with deep wallets, but they didn't falter.

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 24:  Atletico de Madrid fans react after the first goal of their team during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid CF and Club Atletico de Madrid on May 24, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. More than 85,000 Santiago Bernabeu
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Going into the final, Atletico had the world behind them because of what they meant to the sport. A team built around passion and players, rather than money, had made it to the final and were now facing their toughest task in Real Madrid.

The rest of the story is well known by now. Atletico scored first, breathing hope into everyone watching around the world, before Real Madrid eventually took over. 

But just because Atletico lost doesn't mean that fans should hang their heads and walk away. Atletico Madrid proved time and again that the little guys can be champions, and that giving up is never an option.

It was seen in the final moments of the match as well. After Raphael Varane kicked the ball at the Atletico bench, Simeone stormed onto the pitch. What he did cannot be justified, but it showed just how much passion has been put into this season.

Emotions were high, but that is exactly how it has been all season for Atletico. This team personified what every fan wants to see in today's game: hope.

So as Atletico's season comes to an end, we must not moan about what could have been, but rather we must be happy about what did take place. Atletico Madrid dared to fight back all season, and they will never be forgotten for it.

 

What should be made of Atletico Madrid's season? Can Los Colchoneros continue their impressive run next year? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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