Critics of the fiercely aggressive Atletico coach overlook his innovative work at the club, as effectively as his honesty and loyalty off the pitch
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have been a formidable power throughout the very last 18 months: so a lot so, in point that they would be forgiven for forgetting what it feels like to eliminate a recreation.
Atletico defeating the reigning champions in the two legs, outscoring them 4-2 thanks to Marcos Llorente and Alvaro Morata’s excess-time heroics at Anfield. Klopp, on the other hand, was not amazed with what he observed, and had some option phrases immediately after the closing whistle for the mastermind guiding that triumph, Diego Simeone.
“We acknowledge it of class but it doesn’t sense proper tonight. I realise I am a definitely lousy loser, specifically when the boys set such an exertion in in opposition to globe-course players on the other facet who protect with two rows of 4.”
This sort of criticisms of study course are nothing new to Simeone. About the earlier 8 yrs, he has reworked Atletico from La Liga also-rans to a single of Europe’s most feared teams – Thursday’s quarter-remaining in opposition to RB Leipzig is the coach’s fifth considering the fact that having about at the club – and has been accused at each step of staying ‘anti-football’.
Ordinarily, he refused to rise to the bait. When asked after that good Liverpool upset what it is that Atletico play for, he only responded: “To acquire, with all our soul.”
At this position, even though, he must not have to protect his file, even to a manager of Klopp’s standing.
To compose El Cholo off as a negative force which ultimately hurts the recreation is not only intellectually dishonest, but also an inaccurate depiction of the gorgeous position he has carried out in the Spanish funds given that returning to his former businesses in December 2011 from Racing Club.
When he took more than from Gregorio Manzano, Atletico ended up languishing in 10th position in La Liga, with just two Champions League skills in the previous 15 a long time.
Perhaps even far more detrimental to the Atleti psyche, so considerably did they lag powering rivals True that the Merengue faithful, right after thrashing Manzano’s stragglers 4-1 previously that time to prolong their unbeaten operate versus their neighbours to 11 yrs, held up the notorious banner: “Wanted: A worthy opponent for a good Derby.”
Simeone, with no new expenditure in his to start with transfer window, steadied the ship immediately and by the stop of 2011-12 experienced currently shipped key silverware in the form of the Europa League title.
Victory in the Copa del Rey and a place in the Champions League adopted in his first total year, as, somewhat fewer fortunately, did the loss of star striker Radamel Falcao to Monaco. The Colombian had smashed 70 objectives in just 92 outings given that arriving in convert to exchange Manchester Town-certain sensation Sergio Aguero in 2011.
Simeone, nevertheless, was barely flustered by this kind of a vital reduction, and swooped to pair ex-Barca star David Villa with the emerging skills of Diego Costa and Arda Turan – a mix that delivered La Liga just 12 months afterwards.
Barca and Real’s dominance came to an stop, while the latter took their revenge with the initial of two agonising Champions League remaining triumphs.
Considering that that auspicious commence Simeone has taken care of Atletico’s location between Europe’s elite, failing to make the Champions League knockout stage on just a single situation in the last 7 seasons (an anomaly speedily compensated with another Europa League gong).
He has completed so not, like most of his rivals, with the assist of a bottomless pit of transfer resources, but with the mindful, clever use of the club’s means and, most notably, the re-expenditure of the sums gained for a succession of departing stars.
When Falcao left, Atleti moved for Villa and then Antoine Griezmann. Brilliant loanee Thibaut Courtois if anything at all has been outshone by his successor Jan Oblak, plucked from relative obscurity at Benfica.
Diego Godin rose to grow to be one of the world’s best centre-backs right before leaving for Inter but alongside him Simeone had previously been grooming Jose Maria Gimenez for many years to stage up in his compatriot’s absence.
And even though Joao Felix could have toiled in his debut year in Madrid, he impressed in the 2nd 50 % of the campaign to hint that he could prove a deserving extended-time period heir to Griezmann, who numerous believed irreplaceable.
Last summer by itself, Griezmann, Godin, Lucas Hernandez and Rodri, extra than a 3rd of the to start with-preference Atleti starting line-up in 2018-19, chose to request their fortunes in other places. And although it was considerably from a vintage season at the Wanda Metropolitano the club however battled on to consider 3rd location, capping that achievement with that victory more than Liverpool when they ended up at their most affordable ebb amid a run of disappointing success.
The Argentine coach, be it as a player or now on the bench, has by no means attempted to hide his competitive streak. When Atletico are in action Simeone typically appears to be taking part in along with his expenses, stalking up and down the touchline like a caged tiger and exploding at the slightest provocation.
The players in convert leave no stone unturned in lookup of an advantage, gnawing away at their opponents’ endurance with their organisation and tenacity, forcing problems and the opportunity to drive forward.
It is undeniable that at their worst Atletico can be abrasive and difficult to watch. But the idea that they are particularly ‘dirty’ – an accusation repeated this week by RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann ahead of Thursday’s Champions League quarter-ultimate – is one more myth.
In the past-16 tie that so offended Klopp’s sensibilities, to just take just a single case in point, the Colchoneros fully commited less fouls than Liverpool more than 210 minutes of engage in, matching the Reds on yellow playing cards with a mere a few in the two legs mixed.
The past Liga campaign tells a very similar story: only 7 teams in 2019-20 boasted a far better disciplinary record than Cholo’s males, who suffered just a few reds in the whole time.
In contrast to several of his colleagues, what’s more, Simeone insists on sticking to that old football code of honour: what transpires on the pitch, stays on the pitch.
When the ball is in perform the Argentine shouts, screams, harangues gamers and match officers alike but in interviews and press conferences he is the model of graciousness, declining to comment on matters not right linked to his team or liable to trigger controversy.
His loyalty to Atletico – which, it will have to be claimed, has been rewarded with a agreement that can make him the maximum-compensated mentor in the planet – is an additional scarce commodity at the prime of European soccer, in spite of a flood of documented offers to consider more than the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal, former club Inter and the Argentina countrywide team.
When other golf equipment quarrelled with gamers and workers through the coronavirus lockdown to lessen their wage outgoings, Simeone and his squad silently approved a 70 for every cent lower to glance out for Atletico’s greatest interests at this sort of a critical time.
Time after period football’s intelligentsia and the dubiously subjective Madrid and Barcelona soccer press report with glee on how Simeone can definitely choose unfashionable Atleti no even more – only to see him re-invent his staff, silence the doubters and remain among the continent’s very best.
“He is a total trainer,” Godin said of his ex-coach in an Instagram recording in May possibly, just 1 of numerous glowing testimonies available by Atletico stars past and current more than the a long time. “He is close to his gamers, works hard tactically, is very clever in preparing game titles. He has an innate present for reading a match and anticipating what will transpire.
“He is like an orchestra director, mainly because he directs his gamers on the area but when he sees the followers tranquil or the staff needing encouragement, he asks them for it.”
Angel Correa, who misses Thursday’s clashes thanks to a beneficial Covid-19 exam, is equally convinced of his countryman’s impact, telling Ole: “He has saved the workforce competing from the greatest and up at the best for several years now… With El Cholo you have to win no make a difference what, as we say. That is how we put together for each video game.”
That concept has held alongside one another Atletico for virtually a decade, irrespective of regular participant turnover and the constant challenge of having on rivals with wildly top-quality budgets.
“We have to recognize that it is not just vital to gain: it is the only point that matters,” Simeone recurring to reporters on Wednesday as the Leipzig recreation approached.
Simeone is a born competitor, with a fire that, both as a player and mentor, has triggered him to cross the line on many events. But that is true of a lot of soccer personalities what sets him apart is the energy of temperament to instil that identical will to do well in his squad and command unstinting regard.
“If you are not geared up to contend even going to the showers, you won’t make it at Atletico”, as ex-Colchonero Augusto Fernandez joked to La Nacion.
Writing off the achievements of the best part of a ten years as anti-football is to do a grave disservice to Simeone and Atletico.
A winning angle, determination and dependable loyalty are just as important to achievements as beautiful, flowing engage in, and when his solutions could possibly not often be satisfying to the eye, there is no question that soccer would profit from far more real, generous personalities like El Cholo.
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