Atletico Madrid have been the Champions League’s ultimate bridesmaid in recent seasons.
Losing finalists in 2014 and 2016. Semi-finalists this year. The fact that Real Madrid have been Atleti’s conquerors in each of those campaigns – as well as in 2015, when Los Blancos defeated their rivals in the quarter-finals – only adds to the pain.
The thought of watching Zinedine Zidane and co. attempt to retain the trophy next month must eat away at Diego Simeone.
The Argentinian is widely regarded as one of the finest managers in Europe, and the fact that he’s been able to genuinely challenge Real and Barcelona in La Liga is mightily impressive.
Yet Simeone doesn’t come across as someone who will appreciate his resume showing that he’s been a runner-up in two Champions League finals. The feisty 47-year-old is in the sport to win, not to come second.
This season has shown that Los Rojiblancos are a class outfit, yet unfortunate enough to be in the same competitions as Real and Barcelona. They’ve been unable to keep up with the Spanish giants in the title race and also fell to Barca in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey.
Yet in Antoine Griezmann’s opinion, losing in a semi is much easier to deal with than falling at the final hurdle.
Speaking to Cadena Ser’s El Larguero, the French star explained just why he’d prefer to exit at the final four than to lose in a final.
“[Finals] hurt more than semis,” Griezmann said, per Goal. “Because you think you’re going to raise the trophy, you make moves with your people… Then you lose and it’s very hard.”
Reflecting on the season, Griezmann added: “We did not win titles, which is what we wanted. We fulfilled an objective, third, we did a great job. Pity about the semis.”
GRIEZMANN WAS PART OF 2016 CL LOSS
Griezmann wasn’t part of the Atleti side that lost in the 2014 Champions League final – he arrived from Real Sociedad two months after their defeat to Los Blancos – but he was there in Milan when Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning penalty in the shootout to break Atleti’s hearts.
That’s a fate Griezmann doesn’t want to fall upon Gianluigi Buffon, who has been a losing finalist twice in the Champions League.
Buffon, 39, will line up for Juventus when they take on Real in the final on June 3. It might be the Italian legend’s final chance to get his hands on the Champions League trophy and neutrals around the world are eager to see him do it.
Including Griezmann, who has backed Juve to beat Madrid in Cardiff.
GRIEZMANN’S PREDICTION FOR JUVENTUS VS REAL MADRID
As a result, the France international also expects Buffon to win the Ballon d’Or, another accolade he hasn’t won.
“Juventus will win the Champions League and therefore Gigi Buffon the Ballon d’Or,” Griezmann added.