After the nadir of a Copa del Rey elimination by third-division Albacete in December 2011, Atlético Madrid turned to club favourite Diego Simeone to revive their fortunes. Few could have predicted the impact the erstwhile Argentina midfielder would have in the Spanish capital, but – four years on to the day – UEFA.com's Madrid reporter Joseph Walker selects five of the best moments from his hugely successful tenure.
1. 2012 UEFA Europa League glory and Liga revival
Simeone improved the mood of an unhappy dressing room and within five months of his appointment was lifting European silverware. The coach led Atlético past Lazio, Beşiktaş, Hannover and Valencia before a 3-0 triumph against domestic rivals Athletic Club secured the Vicente Calderón outfit their second UEFA Europa League title in three seasons. Success was not limited to Europe either –10th when Simeone arrived, Atlético finished the Liga campaign in fifth.
2. 2012 UEFA Super Cup victory
If there were any doubts surrounding Atlético's emergence as a European force, they were put to bed with an emphatic 4-1 defeat of UEFA Champions League winners Chelsea in Monaco. A masterclass from Radamel Falcao, who scored a first-half hat-trick, and a delicate finish by defender Miranda put the result beyond doubt before Gary Cahill scored a late consolation for the Blues. It would not be the last time Atlético would haunt Chelsea.
3. 2013 Copa del Rey victory ends derby heartache
With Atlético having gone 14 years without winning a Derbi Madrileño, the result seemed a forgone conclusion when they met Real Madrid in the 2013 Copa del Rey final at the Santiago Bernabéu. Cristiano Ronaldo's 14th-minute opener was cancelled out by Diego Costa, meaning extra time, where a combination of heroic goalkeeping from Thibaut Courtois and a thumping Miranda header helped Atlético claim their tenth domestic cup.
4. Atlético are now the team to beat in Madrid
Since ending their winless streak, Atlético have gone on to rule the Spanish capital. Though they succumbed after extra time to Carlo Ancelotti's Merengues in the 2014 UEFA Champions League final, the Colchoneros are unbeaten in the five Liga meetings since winning the Copa del Rey and lost only once in eight encounters in all competitions last term. Their dominance of the fixture in recent seasons was never more apparent than in their barnstorming 4-0 victory in February.
5. Liga title against all odds
In just his second full campaign at the helm, Simeone did what many thought was impossible: finish ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Atlético won 16 of their first 18 Liga fixtures and suffered only four defeats all season. A towering Diego Godín header at the Camp Nou on the final day secured a 1-1 draw that sealed Atlético's first Liga crown in 18 years, prompting a standing ovation from the Catalan public. It was a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that Atlético fought for glory on three fronts, reaching the Copa del Rey semi-finals and coming within seconds of winning the European Cup in Lisbon.
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