In December 2011, Diego Pablo Simeone took over the manager’s position at Vicente Calderon and a new era in the history of the other club from Madrid began. After six years at Atleti, Simeone has become one of the most decorated coaches in the modern game. His trophy cabinet includes a La Liga, a Copa Del Rey, a Europa League and a Super Cup but more than the trophies, Simeone’s men are a symbol of something much more than silverware. They are a symbol of courage, determination, discipline and a fighting spirit second to none.
They have taken on the two rich kids and have matched them all the way, they won the Copa Del Rey at the Bernabeu defeating Mourinho in his farewell game and famously claimed their first Liga in almost twenty years at the Camp Nou.
Although they twice missed on the ultimate achievement of winning the champions league to bitter rivals Real Madrid in Lisbon and Milan but for a club dwelling in the Europa league just four seasons ago and having to continuously sell their best players at their peak. This has been an ultimate achievement nevertheless.
Simeone like Sir Alex is known to look for players with mental strength as well as technical adaptability at a fairly young age or for an extremely efficient price like David Villa for a mere six million euros ahead of their title winning campaign in 2013-14 and acquiring Antoine Griezzman from Real Sociedad for 30 million euros who is all set to secure around 85 million when le leaves at the end of this season, a profitable business indeed. It is not the first time that Simeone has had to sell his best player and rebuild the team. Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois among others were main pivots of the side when they left but Simeone always managed to get adequate replacements and also help the club make profits in a league struck terribly by the recession. But the main question is “Will Simeone still be there next season ?”. There have been reports linking him to another former club close to his heart-Inter and also Barcelona but according to reports in Spain, the current Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde is expected to take the hot seat in Barcelona and current Barca boss Luis Enrique has been approached by Inter. Hence it is looking like Simeone might stay for one more season and hope to take one final shot at continental glory.
If there is anything that Atleti lacked against Real in the champions league then that was pace in counter. Los Blancos were far from their best defensively but were able to pass the ball around with a lot of freedom in the midfield due to lack of pressing and counter-attacking threat. Therefore they need to replace slow players like Fernando Torres and Koke who look to be past their prime and lack the stamina to be the first choice in the later half of the season. They also need to get a good backup Center Back which was evident in Stefan Savic’s nightmare at the Bernabeu in the first leg but the most important thing for Atleti is to once again try and save their invaluable manager from predators constantly lurking for his signature. Antoine Griezmann is almost certain to leave, so could Jan Oblak and Yannick Carrasco and hence they would once again need Simeone to assemble the best possible players and rally his troops once again to go one better and finally claim European football’s greatest prize.
VAMOS ATLETI !!