That, to anyone who does not know the club, seemed a crazy suggestion. Beat Barcelona? That secondary club from Madrid? No chance.
Mind you, the so called ‘La Liga experts’ who held that opinion also spelt it Athletico Madrid and were under the impression the greatest game in world football was called El Classico. For future reference, it only has one ‘s.’
They were of course the people who bothered to watch two La Liga games a year, and didn’t even get the spelling right.
Anyone who has watched how Diego Simeone has developed and drilled his side over the last three years thought the La Liga leaders were well in with a shout of being in the pot for the semi-finals draw.
The best Atleti side in years versus the worst Barca one? Yep, Simeone et al were looking good for it.
The first leg of course put the tie in their favour ever so slightly, but with the injury to Diego Costa, absence of Arda Turan coupled with the fact that away goals never quite seem the same in ties against domestic opponents, there were more than a few nervous faces at the Vicente Calderon at kick off.
There should not have been. The Koke goal after only five minutes aside, the club looked in control throughout. Yes Barcelona had possession, what else is new, but they did little with it.
Thibaut Courtois continued to enhance his growing reputation – showing he is heir to Petr Cech in more ways than one with his constant resistance against Barcelona and more vitally Lionel Messi – who has now failed to find the net against him in six games.
The defence are so well drilled and compact – and the likes of Tiago and Gabi should be watched by David Moyes if he wants to know what a real midfield duo look like.
Missing their goal talisman did not spell the end for the club – David Villa (who was an utter steal in the summer) duly delivered up top and showed why he was so underused by his former club.
Atleti work for each other – and their manager, who make no mistake knows exactly what he is doing.
Simeone may have looked like a jack in a micromanaging box during the game, but he has his side drilled, tactically aware and willing to die for him.
Qualities like that, along with the talent they have and a little bit of luck could see the ‘second side’ from Madrid become the premier side in Europe this season.
How far can Atleti go this season? Let us know your thoughts below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.