Atletico Madrid recognizes it needs to improve to succeed in Europe

Despite a fearless performance and a 2-1 second leg victory, Atletico Madrid's attempt to overturn a 3-0 first leg deficit from their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid fell short.

Most people thought this tie was a foregone conclusion after Atletico were outclassed at the Bernabeu eight days ago.

Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid are just 90 minutes from reaching what no other club has done, and are due all the credit they deserve.

However, they knew one away goal would completely change the complexion of a compelling match - and Isco's opportunist strike did exactly that.

"The same people will be in the Metropolitano", said Atletico boss Diego Simeone.

It was the final European game at the Calderon before Atletico moves into a new venue next season.

"The players rely on him and winning the Champions League after five months gives you extra energy and he took advantage of it".

For many years, the stadium hosted Atletico sides - including the one relegated in 2000 - who struggled to emerge from their shadows of their illustrious neighbours.

Speaking to ESPN after the game, the 47-year-old referred to last season's final defeat to Real, before sharing his positive thoughts moving forward.

A roaring start from Atletico had the home side 2-0 up inside 16 minutes at a rocking Estadio Vicente Calderon through Saul Niguez's bullet header and Antoine Griezmann's mishit penalty, and the defending champions' 3-0 first-leg advantage had been cut to the bare minimum.

The final will be a replay of the 1998 showpiece, when Real were crowned European champions for the seventh time - after a 32-year wait - thanks to Predrag Mijatovic's goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the semi-finals, Gianluigi Buffon's age-defying heroics at the goalpost, Atletico Madrid's fighting spirit, Dani Alves' skillful display and the BBC of Juventus - Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini, they have all been the talk of the town throughout the semis.

"It has been a very important club for me in my career and I keep it as a club that has given me everything".

"We knew we were going to suffer, above all in the first 20 or 25 minutes", Zidane said.

  • Julie Sanders