(Reuters) - Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis sees similarities between his side’s run to the Champions League semi-finals and Leicester City’s stunning march toward the English Premier League title.
Leicester are on the brink of completing a surreal journey from 5,000-1 no-hopers to English champions after Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Monday left the Foxes needing just one win to clinch the title.
Just as Leicester have defied the odds and left big spenders like Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and United trailing in their wake, Atletico have overcome a lack of spending power compared to their Champions League rivals to reach the semis.
“Look at what is happening this year with Leicester, they are a modest team and are almost champions in the Premier League,” said Filipe Luis on Monday.
“Epic things happen in soccer. Although there’s a difference in our budgets we are the team that plays most as a team.”
According to the Deloitte Money League, which ranked the world’s richest soccer teams according to revenues for the 2014-15 season, Atletico earned 187 million euros ($210.68 million).
Bayern Munich, Atletico’s opponents in the semi-finals, earned 477 million euros, while the other teams in the last four — Real Madrid and Manchester City — earned 557 million euros 463.5 million euros.
Leicester, seven points clear at the top of the Premier League with three games left, were ranked 24th with 137 million euros and were the 12th highest English team featured in the report.
Barcelona, stunned by Atletico in the Champions League quarter-finals, received 560 million euros in 2014/15.
Filipe Luis said a ‘team-first’ ethic had helped Atletico level the playing field.
“We don’t have a megastar, we have a team where everyone runs, everyone fights for the player next to them, and that makes us stronger,” he added.
“The team thinks a lot collectively, nobody thinks individually, that’s the most positive things that we have.
“We’ve had a lot of bad and good moments in the season and now we are stable, we have players who are getting better and better.”
Filipe Luis said striker Antoine Griezmann, Atletico’s top scorer with 29 goals in all competitions, was a prime example of a player working for the team.
“His principal quality is his humility, he never puts himself ahead of the team.” added the Brazilian defender.
“He scores a lot of goals, he is very calm in front of goal, he never stops improving and there’s no limit to how good he can be.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Peter Rutherford