Fernando Torres believes winning Atletico Madrid’s first ever Champions League would be an even greater feeling than lifting the World Cup.
Atletico face the might of five-time winners Bayern Munich in the first leg of their semi-final at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday.
Torres was on the opposition side when Atletico reached the last four for the first time in 40 years two years ago and even scored for Chelsea as the Spaniards went through 3-1 on aggregate.
The 32-year-old returned to Atletico in January 2015 after a seven-year absence hoping to finally get the chance to win silverware with his boyhood club, who he captained between 2001 and 2007.
And despite winning the European Championship twice and the World Cup with Spain as well as the Champions League with Chelsea, his love for Atletico would make European success there the sweetest of his distinguished career.
“I feel very lucky to have been with great teams. The national team gave me the chance to live some incredible nights and win big titles,” said Torres.
“But for me personally nothing compares to what it would be like to do it with Atletico.”
Atletico are also in with a chance of winning La Liga for the second time in three years as they are level on points with Barcelona at the top of the table with three games to go thanks in part to Torres’s fine goalscoring run of five goals in six games.
Torres sang Atletico coach Diego Simeone’s name from the stands as the Argentine — then a dynamic midfielder — inspired the Rojiblancos to a league and cup double in the 1995-96 season.
Now Torres is determined for this Atletico side to write themselves into the club’s history books with a historic double of their own.
“We have a fantastic opportunity in front of us, a great tie against one of the big favorites without doubt,” he added.
“What we want to do is write new history. Hopefully in a week’s time we can say we have taken another step towards it.”
Bayern are also desperate to reach the final in coach Pep Guardiola’s final season in charge having fallen at the semi-final stage in the last two seasons to Spanish opposition in Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Xabi Alonso will anchor the Bayern midfield on his return to the Spanish capital after five seasons at Real Madrid, but was keen to highlight Atletico’s defensive strengths rather than those of his old Liverpool teammate Torres.
“There are facets in which they are probably the best team in the world,” said Alonso of Atletico’s remarkable 32 clean sheets this season.
“They are in the top five of teams in Europe and they deserve to be there.”
Atletico are expected to be missing one of their key defensive lynchpins, though, as Diego Godin is a major doubt due to a hamstring injury.
By contrast, Bayern’s defense could be handed a huge boost by the return of German international Jerome Boateng as he made the trip to Madrid after three months out with a groin injury.
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