Atletico Madrid lost two of the last three Champions League finals to their cross-town rivals Real Madrid. They sure as hell would not give them the chance to get closer to win La Liga.
Playing the role of the gritty underdogs, Atletico Madrid more than lived up to the billing and frustrated a lot of people last weekend, as Antoine Griezmann scored late and forced a 1-1 derby draw at Santiago Bernabeu.
Real were on the verge of winning the game after Pepe powerfully headed home Toni Kroos’ free-kick in the 52nd minute, but Griezmann had other plans in mind as the Frenchman scored to level the game with five minutes remaining.
Not only did Atletico hold on to deny Real a first home win in the last four derbies played at Bernabeu, they also pushed them away from clinching the Spanish top flight title, and made Zinedine Zidane mark his 50th game as Real boss with a draw instead of a 40th win.
GRIT AND GRIEZ
Atleti spent much of the fixture on the back foot, with Real forward Cristiano Ronaldo drawing saves from Jan Oblak and one panicked clearance from Stefan Savic.
But near the end game Diego Simeone’s men started to rack up the pressure and catch Real sleeping on the counter attack, and their efforts got rewarded when substitute Angel Correa threaded a pass between Real defenders and found Griezmann, who delivered a low finish to snatch a late point for Atleti.
The Frenchman has the most goals against Real Madrid in La Liga since 2013 with five strikes, including the winner of last season’s derby on the same venue. It is also the fourth straight league win at Bernabeu for Atleti.
ZIDANE ZIP ON FUTURE
Zidane steered Madrid to lifting two Champions League trophies but has failed to help Los Blancos in breaking their four-year dry spell in La Liga.
“Ask someone else,” said Zidane when asked about his future with the team, who last won the Spanish top flight in 2012 under then-boss Jose Mourinho.
Real are still three points ahead of Barcelona in the title race and have a game on hand. They have been kicked out of the Copa Del Rey by Celta de Vigo in the quarter-finals, but they are to face Bayern Munich in a two-leg quarter-final tie in the UEFA Champions League.