This isn’t a story of a heroic comeback (although I wish it was), nor a 5-0 walk in the park. Instead it’s about something much bigger than that – one of those nights that made me remember why I fell in love with football in the first place.
As I made my way down the famous Paseo de los Melancolicos, I could feel that something great was simmering. It was the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against our eternal rivals, Real Madrid; based on the atmosphere around the stadium, no one would have been able to tell that we had lost 3-0 at the Bernabéu just a week prior. There was an inexplicable hope in the air. We believed in something that we knew was impossible. How were Atleti going to score three goals while keeping the reigning champions quiet all night?
As most of us knew deep down would be the case, it never happened. We started off better than anyone could have ever imagined: 2-0 up by the 17th minute. Maybe it wasn’t impossible? The stadium was roaring as half-time approached. Then, silence. Benzema took out three defenders, Isco scored and the rest is history – as were our chances of going to Cardiff for the final.
The second half came around and the scoreline didn’t move. The crowd had quietened and the mood had changed. But suddenly, with about 10 minutes remaining, it started to rain. And it was as if that rain had suddenly changed the outcome of the match: everyone in the stadium started to sing at the top of their voice. No one left their seat. While Madrid fans put on their coats, Atleti fans took off their shirts.
Under the thunder and lightning that lit up the capital, we experienced one of the most magical nights ever at the Vicente Calderón. The kind of magic that only occurs in the rain.