Losing a European final is always tough, particularly when it is against your fiercest rivals.
That is the situation Atletico Madrid found themselves in at Milan’s San Siro in May, defeated in a UEFA Champions League final for the second time in three editions by city rivals Real Madrid, this time in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw, after extra time.
Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco gave Atletico a fighting chance late, earning his side an extra 30 minutes to claw its way in front. But it was not to be, and the Rojiblancos were left heartbroken once more as Cristiano Ronaldo clinched Undecima for Real after Juanfran Torres fluffed his crucial penalty.
The loss, described by Atleti boss Diego Simeone as a “death” is still fresh for stars Jan Oblak and Tiago Mendes, but the duo say the wounds of defeat are not providing any extra motivation for a fresh tilt at glory.
Simeone: The Champions League final loss was like a death #ICCMelb
— Outside90 (@Outside90) July 28, 2016
“(We’re not using the defeat) like motivation because even if we won this game or not, the motivation will always be the same for the season,” Oblak told Outside90.
“Unluckily we lost. Of course it hurts, it is not easy to lose a final, it is not easy to lose a normal game. So to lose a final is more difficult, but that’s football.
“You need to keep working, keep training and keep playing. I’m sure we will have another opportunity to reach that (Champions League final win).
“This season is a new season and we will try to do everything we can to reach our goals. The aim is always to win.”
“Of course we want to win. We had a fantastic season reaching the final, beating Barcelona, Bayern, but if you don’t win, it’s not quite the same,” Tiago added.
“This year we’ll try again. In the last three years, we’ve been in two finals but we did not win the cup.
“But we’ll keep trying. We have a great team and a great spirit and we’ll fight until the end, until we win the Champions League.”
Two months later and Atletico begin the process of moving on with a visit to Australia, taking part in game three of the International Champions Cup Melbourne against Tottenham Hotspur as well as a friendly match in Geelong against Melbourne Victory.
Oblak says Atletico will be taking their time in Australia seriously but will be putting emphasis on fine-tuning performance rather than results as they look to finally realise their European dreams.
“We have two games … we will give our best. Of course the result is important, we always want to win games, but the most important thing is that we’re going to play well.
“We’re going to see new things, we’re going to see tactics from the coach, so preseason is always totally different to when the season starts but every game is important and we always want to win.”