Atletico Madrid Profile

Major Honours La Liga (11), Copa del Rey (10), Europa League (3), UEFA Super Cup (3), UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1)
Year Founded 1903

Los Colchoneros may not have the status nor the financial power of Real Madrid or Barcelona however, as the third bastion of Spanish football this is a club with history, prestige and pride.

Atletico Madrid are a Spanish football club who play in La Liga. They are one of three clubs based in Madrid, Spain's capital, along with Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano. Real are their great rivals and arguably the most successful team in world soccer history.

Known affectionately as 'Los Rojiblancos' (The Red and Whites), Atletico have boasted a string of great strikers in recent years, including Fernando Torres, Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero, Falcao, Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez.

Atletico Madrid used to play their home matches at the Vicente Calderon Stadium before moving to the Estadio Metropolitano in 2017.

Foundation and early history

Atletico Madrid were formed in 1903 as Athletic Club Sucursal de Madrid by three Basque students living in Madrid and were initially intended to be a youth branch for Athletic Bilbao. However, the following year, the founders were joined by unhappy former members of Real Madrid.

Athletic Madrid only became independent of Athletic Bilbao in 1921 and moved into the 35,800-seater Estadio Metropolitano de Madrid. The club remained in the stadium until 1966 when they moved into the Vicente Calderon.

After three Central Regional Championship victories in the 1920s, Athletic were invited to join Spain's top flight in 1928.

After yo-yoing between relegation and promotion in the 1930s, Athletic won their first La Liga title under Ricardo Zamora in 1939/40, defending their crown the following season. Atletico were by now known as Athletic Aviacion de Madrid after merging with Aviacion Nacional of Zaragoza.

Captain German Gomez, who was signed from Racing Santander, was a key player for the club throughout the bulk of the 1940s from midfield.

Golden era

Atletico dropped their military association in 1947 and settled on the name Club Atletico de Madrid. In the early 1950s, under the guidance of Helenio Herrera, Atleti enjoyed one of the most successful spells in their history. They won La Liga titles in 1950 and 1951.

After Herrera departed in 1953, they slipped further behind Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain's pecking order. They generally battled with Athletic Bilbao to be Spain's third most successful club for the remainder of the 1950s.

Real Madrid dominated La Liga from 1961 to 1980, winning 14 league titles. Only Atletico Madrid offered serious resistance, winning the league in 1966, 1970, 1973 and 1977. Los Rojiblancos also won the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1962.

In 1974, Atletico Madrid made the European Cup final, but they were beaten 4-0 by Bayern Munich in the replay after a 1-1 first-leg draw after extra time. Luis Aragones, a key player for Atletico during this era and a future Spain national team coach, scored Atletico's goal in the first leg.

Aragones was appointed Atletico's head coach after the European Cup final and served for six years in the first of four stints at the helm. He led the club from 1974-1980, 1982-1987, 1991-1993 and 2002-2003.

Bayern pulled out of the Intercontinental Cup due to fixture congestion after the European Cup final and Atletico Madrid beat Independiente to clinch the prize under Aragones.

Financial problems and relegation

Atletico Madrid continued to enjoy success in the 1980s and much of the 1990s, but their reckless spending under the guidance of club president Jesus Gil (who was in the role from 1987 to 2003) proved fruitless.

Radomir Antic managed the team in three separate stints under Gil, but his controversial decision to close the academy led to Raul joining crosstown rivals Real Madrid.

Atletico Madrid, 1997, Jordi Lardin, Kiko

Gil and his board were suspended pending an investigation into misuse of club funds in December 1999 and Atletico Madrid endured a disastrous 1999/2000 season.

Just three seasons after competing in the UEFA Champions League, the club finished 19th in La Liga and dropped into Spain's second tier.

Return to success

Atletico won promotion back to La Liga under Aragones in 2002. He was the head coach who gave Fernando Torres his debut for the club.

Torres was not particularly prolific for Atletico Madrid in the Segunda Division, but he hit top form shortly after promotion to La Liga. Torres became an icon for the club over the course of his two spells as a player there - one prior to his transfer to Liverpool and one after stints at the Reds, Chelsea and AC Milan.

Atletico gained a reputation for bringing in a string of impressive strikers, who helped keep them competitive in Spain. However, they were nowhere close to matching Real Madrid and Barcelona's dominance in La Liga until the arrival of Diego Simeone as head coach in 2011.

Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid, Europa League Final, May 2018

Simeone led Atletico to the 2012 UEFA Europa League title and then an astonishing 4-1 win over European champions Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup final. That match saw Radamel Falcao complete a hat-trick against a club he would go on to play for.

Atletico made the UEFA Champions League final in 2014 and 2016, losing to Real Madrid on both occasions.

However, Los Rojiblancos also managed to secure an incredible La Liga title victory in 2013/14 and remained competitive in subsequent seasons.

Simeone once again led Atleti to the UEFA Europa League title in 2018, as they beat Marseille 3-0 in the final. Antoine Griezmann scored twice and Gabi once.

In 2020/21, they once again lifted La Liga trophy beating rivals Real by two points to claim their 11th league title.

The Madrid Derby

Atletico Madrid have always had a fierce rivalry with crosstown rivals Real Madrid. Los Blancos were dominant in Spain during Atletico's golden era between 1961 and 1980, so Atleti have always lived in Real Madrid's shadow to some degree. However, that has begun to change under Simeone.

Atleti's biggest win over Real Madrid was in 1947 at the Metropolitano, when they beat their city neighbours 5-0.

The fanbase

Atletico Madrid's fanbase is known for enjoying their underdog status relative to Real Madrid. Several supporters were dismayed by the move out of the Vicente Calderon into the Wanda Metropolitano, 20km from their base, but attendances have soared since the relocation.

Atletico Madrid, May 2018, Saul Niguez, Europa League, Fans

Club's finances

Known for reckless spending in the Jesus Gil era, Atletico Madrid are in far better financial health in the modern era. The move into the Wanda Metropolitano saw matchday revenue increase almost 50% to $68million in 2017/18. Forbes value the team at €1.4bn as of May 2022.

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