It was just four years ago that two seemingly emerging clubs were set to make their mark on the football world. On May 10, 2010 Atlético Madridfaced Fulham FC in the Europa League final, a ‘second-tier’ competition for European clubs outside the top three or four in their respective domestic leagues.
Atlético Madrid won that match 2-1 after extra time and went on to defeat UEFA Champions League winner Inter Milan in the 2010 UEFA Super Cup. In the four years since the club has won major trophies including: Europa League (2011-12), UEFA Super Cup (2012-13) and Copa del Rey (2012-13).
The past four seasons have not been as fruitful for Fulham. After the Europa final loss FFC went on to an eighth place finish during the 2010-11 Premier League (their second highest finish ever). The Whites again qualified for Europa League via the Fair Play Rankings, but were knocked out in the qualifying round. A ninth-place finish in the 2011-12 Premier League was not what the Craven Cottage supporters dreamed of, especially after the brilliant performance of midfielder Clint Dempsey (fourth in PL scoring, league player of the year voting).
On August 31, 2012 the immediate future direction of the club may have been sealed as FFC confirmed the sale of Dempsey to Tottenham Hotspur. Like the career of the American midfielder, Fulham fell to 12th in the PL table, going winless in seven matches before a final day win over Swansea City.
Flash forward to May 3, 2014: Fulham finish with a record of 9-5-24 and 32 points, 19th in the Premier League and are relegated to The Football League Championship. Manager Martin Jol was sacked by new American owner Shahid Khan and replaced by Rene Meulenstein on December 1. Meulenstein was sacked 75 days later as Felix Magath took over as bench boss.
On May 17, 2014 Atlético Madrid went to Camp Nou needing a point to secure the La Liga title. After a 1-1 draw with FC Barcelona, the Colchoneroswere crowned champions for the first time in 18 years, their 10th overall La Liga title.
This unforgettable season for Atlético will conclude on May 24 with a showdown with city rival Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League Final. It will be a chance to earn the title of ‘top club in the world’ against their biggest rival.
Atlético vs Real Head-To-Head in 2013-14
9/28/13: Atlético 1-0
2/05/14: Real 3-0*
2/11/14: Real 2-0*
3/02/14: draw 2-2
* = Copa del Rey Final
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