Each week, we’ll analyse the performance of a player or manager during the 2019/20 season before throwing it over to you, the audience, to decide whether you would ‘stick’ with them or ‘twist’ in favour of an alternative and if so, who and why? Head to our Twitter (@Eurosport_UK) and leave your comments as we question whether European glory is the only goal keeping Simeone in Madrid?
Football’s suspension is the pause button on the unrelenting and intense pursuit of perfection which Diego Simeone advocates. In many ways, he is everything that you want in a manager. He lives and breathes the game, kicking every ball and challenging every decision alongside his players. A motivator, fighter, warrior if you will – he personifies a burning passion for the beautiful game. The club may have moved to their new home at the Wanda Metropolitano, the squad may have altered, but Simeone has maintained the fiery persona for which he has been renowned since he became Atletico boss some eight years ago. Since then, he has taken charge of 467 games recording 281 wins, 106 draws and 80 defeats. He has claimed the La Liga title, the Spanish Cup and two Europa League victories while ensuring Atletico have been involved in the Champions League for seven his eight seasons in charge. It is there that Simeone has endured his most difficult moments losing two finals to arch-rivals Real Madrid - making the pill of defeat almost unbearable to swallow. There is unfinished business to be attended to but is this craving for redemption the only thing keeping Simeone in the Spanish capital?
Atletico have come within seconds of Champions League glory only to be denied by their noisy neighbours – as if defeat alone was not painful enough. In 2014, they were on the cusp only to be denied by a last-gasp Sergio Ramos header that forced extra time where Real emerged 4-1 victors. Two years later, the teams were re-united for another showdown and this time Atletico were on the wrong end of a penalty shoot-out. Defeat is not failure but a learning opportunity and inspiration to go again. The last game of live football the writer watched was Atletico’s knockout stage match against Liverpool at Anfield. These days, getting anything from Anfield is a rarity. However, Simeone’s men showed resilience, determination and fight to turn the game on its head and dispose of the defending champions on their own turf. Atletico’s post-match celebrations were symbolic of the spirit, belief and winning mentality which characterise the philosophy Simeone has instilled into them. The future of this season’s Champions League is not clear at the time of writing however, if it is deemed safe to complete then Atletico can dream of hitting the jackpot at the third time of asking.
It’s fair to say that Atletico have been unable to make their mark in La Liga this season. They have fallen away in the title race and reside in sixth place ahead of a potential restart in mid-June. After finishing second last season and eight points ahead of Real, they have been cut adrift of the title race this time around. They sit 11 points off Real in second and 13 points behind leaders Barcelona. However, they are only one point adrift of the top four and subsequent Champions League qualification. Notably, Antoine Griezmann’s departure for the Nou Camp caused some friction between the clubs who were locked in battle over the Frenchman. Although, Atletico claimed a sizeable fee for the attacker which contributed to the capture of young Portuguese starlet, Joao Felix. Atletico have a well-balanced squad which blends solidity, creativity and clinical edge. A world-class keeper in Jan Oblak, the reliable rock that is Thomas Partey, upcoming stars such as Felix and the infamous Diego Costa who needs no introduction to Premier League supporters. Could this domestic dip suggest that all eyes are on the prize they haven’t got but so desperately crave?
There is an affinity between Simeone and Atletico with the 50-year-old having represented the club during his playing days. He is a well-thought of figure and his commitment to the club has been second to none. His achievements and personality have previously attracted interest from other European clubs, but the Argentine has yet to entertain the temptation. The question is how long does this remain the case? If he succeeds in making Atletico ‘Kings of Europe’ then surely he becomes more desirable? Does he remain with the club until the job is done and more importantly, does he believe they can achieve it within a reasonable time frame? If the belief is there then he could be in this job for the long-haul but if this confidence begins to waver, the prospect of a fresh start may be more enticing. Although, Simeone is not the type to back down from a battle. He will know that his team can claim the final piece to their jigsaw and falling at the final hurdle has been their only downfall. The writer believes the desire to right these wrongs is the anchor preventing him from drifting. He has earned the stamps on his loyalty card but is yet to claim the grandest prize he so richly deserves.
Have Your Say
Now it’s time for you to get involved! Head to our Twitter page and tweet us to give us your thoughts on the ultimate question. Would you ‘stick’ with Simeone or would you ‘twist’ in favour of an alternative and if so, who would you choose and why?