Hard-fighting Diego Simeone and his burning temperament have raised the bar at Vicente Calderon over the past few seasons and the slightest inability to reach it can – and in some extreme cases – will be considered utter failure.
Having helped the team he played for get out of the shadow of their more prominent city rivals, Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone is at a delicate moment of his career. But so is the club he manages and loves.
For some peculiar reason I can’t seem to get to the bottom of, Atletico Madrid look insecure and that might be the biggest problem they are facing this season.
Having opened the new season on the back of the 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions, Atletico Madrid got slapped in the face by this season’s high-flying Sevilla in October. With their weaknesses exposed by the brave Jorge Sampaoli’s attack-oriented charges, Atleti went on to lose two more la Liga games only weeks later as they succumbed to back-to-back defeat to Real Sociedad and Real Madrid, respectively.
Relentlessness and the unbreakable spirit were at the test in 2016 as Atletico Madrid failed to do what they became renowned for in recent years – taking major scalps thanks to their die-hard approach.
Albeit a team in transition, few people would have expected to see Atletico Madrid lose to Villarreal 3-0 or to the likes of Las Palmas in that 3-2 defeat in Copa del Rey which came at no cost at the time.
Still, it was this week’s Copa del Rey elimination which served as the best example to illustrate the lost confidence of a once lethal side.
Atletico Madrid did open the game in great fashion, running and putting intense pressure on Barcelona, but the wastefulness in front of goal we are witnessing throughout Atletico’s season stepped up to the scene once again.
With Kevin Gameiro and Yannick Carrasco worryingly out of form so eagerly expected and wished for from the two extremely powerful attackers, and with Antoine Griezmann feeling less and less comfortable with being alone in his exploits in front of goal, Atletico Madrid need to think carefully about what should be done next.
Sevilla an Example to Follow
Whether we would like to admit it or not, Diego Simeone could leave Atletico Madrid in the summer.
His departure has long been mooted in circles close to the club and the Argentine tactician himself. The fact he decided to cut short his previous deal with the club could be indicative, but there is a single reason why Cholo would consider stepping down in the summer.
With his side effectively out of Copa del Rey and La Liga title race, much will depend on the Champions League exploits. Atletico Madrid are pitted against Bayer Leverkusen in the round of 16 and will meet the German side away towards the end of February.
Rojiblancos can be found at 6/5 betting odds to claim a win in the first leg and there is no doubt that a win over Bayer would be a major morale-boost for the club.
A European trophy, however unlikely it may seem at the moment, could be the only thing that could keep Cholo at the club past the current season. Potential departure of his would spark an avalanche as a number of first-team players could follow in his path.
In a scenario which happened at Sevilla last season when Unai Emery lead the departure of the total of 11 players, Atletico Madrid could end up being short of many footballers which are currently the backbone of Simeone’s side.
It would not necessarily be a bad development however, as Atletico Madrid will be given the opportunity to start fresh and turn a clean slate. A new manager and a new batch of players to replace the frustrated stars could inject new power Atletico are currently so desperate of at the moment.
If Sevilla managed to do it and thrive, who is there to claim that Atletico can’t do it as well?
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