Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 with Catalan giants Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday night.
The draw gives Atleti a slight advantage in the tie going into the second leg at the Vicente Calderon.
The club from the Spanish capital are enjoying an amazing season. Not only are Atleti in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but they are also above city rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona themselves in La Liga.
It is an unusual scenario for one of the Spanish giants not to be leading the table, but Atletico have been absolutely outstanding this season. Even when they have not played well in recent weeks they have ground out wins.
Much of the credit for Atleti’s amazing season has to go to their highly-rated Argentinian boss Diego Simeone. The former-Argentina captain has turned his Atleti team into a team that even Spain’s big two have found difficult to defeat this season.
The reason why Atletico are so hard to beat is because they are so well organised by their determined Argentinian boss. In his three seasons at Atletico, Simeone has shown his tactical nous and proved to be a very astute coach.
Atletico Madrid have the best defensive record in La Liga and also the Champions League. This again is down to how Simeone sets up his team. Even the majestic Lionel Messi has struggled to break them down this season in four meetings.
Simeone has been shrewd with his handling of his players in Madrid. When Atletico sold star striker Radamel Falcao this summer, Simeone decided to bring in Spanish legend David Villa from Barcelona and more importantly put his faith in Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa.
Those two decisions have proven to be very good decisions. Villa has not been as prolific as in past seasons, but the Spanish international has still netted 11 goals in La Liga. Villa’s experience has proved invaluable to Atleti. The decision to place faith in Costa was also inspired.
Costa showed promise towards the end of last season, but there were question marks over his attitude. This season Simeone has got the best out of the striker and he is now one of the most in-demand strikers in the European game.
The 25-year-old has found the net 32 times in all competitions, with 24 in La Liga and seven in the Champions League this season. Just like Simeone, Atletico could have trouble keeping hold of the striker this summer, as the forward has a reported release clause of £32million in his contract.
Costa was not fully-fit for the Champions League clash with Barcelona and had failed to even last 45 minutes, as he limped off. Atletico will be hoping that the reported-Chelsea transfer target has not picked-up a long-term injury.
Costa has played a crucial role for Atletico this season and a long-term injury could curtail Simeone’s team chances of success this season.
Simeone is also permanently being linked with replacing Manchester United boss David Moyes. If United are looking to replace the Scot then they could definitely do worse than looking in the direction of the Argentine. However, whether Simeone would consider the move at the moment would be debatable.
Simeone is one of Europe’s up-and-coming top young bosses. Not only has he taken Atletico into the top four of La Liga, but also managed to sustain an unlikely title challenge, which could realistically end with Atleti claiming glory at the end of the season.
At just 43-years old Simeone has already built himself a big reputation in the coaching world. He has already been a success in his homeland with Estudiantes and River Plate. His achievements could be even greater at the Vicente Calderon this season.
Diego Simeone was always a leader and a winner in his playing days. Simeone was on the playing staff last time Atleti won La Liga back in 1996. He could repeat the feat as Atletico boss this season. Winning La Liga would be a fantastic achievement for the club from the Spanish capital and their boss.
If Atletico Madrid continues in their current vein they could go on to achieve an unlikely double of La Liga and Champions League, Diego Simeone will be the man responsible for Atleti’s success and it could lead to big things for the Argentine.
Will Atletico Madrid claim any silverware this season?