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Atletico Madrid’s Champions League expectations illustrate membership’s progress in the course of the Diego Simeone period - Football Roof

Atletico Madrid’s Champions League expectations illustrate membership’s progress in the course of the Diego Simeone period

Luis Suarez did not wait, and he did not look again. On the finish of Atletico Madrid‘s go to to Elche on Wednesday night time, he headed straight down the tunnel, nonetheless aggravated that the purpose he’d scored was dominated out. He had felt like he wanted it — just a little vindication on the shut of a tough season, a reminder that he was nonetheless right here. He had began simply one of many previous 5 video games, and his final purpose was towards Alaves seven matches in the past. In latest weeks, he has not often bought off the bench. This 12 months he has scored half as many as he did final season, when he led Atletico to the LaLiga title.

He’s nonetheless their prime scorer.

Suarez has 11 league targets, the identical quantity as Angel Correa, who one way or the other by no means actually feels like a starter. Matheus Cunha, signed in the summertime, has six. Joao Felix — who, at a switch charge of €126 million, is the most costly participant in membership historical past, and the person coach Diego Simeone says he’ll carry on even when Joao retains getting offended with him within the hope that in the future he’ll put it collectively — was out injured. He has eight. Marcos Llorente, scorer of 12 league targets final season, in double figures for targets and assists, would not have any in any respect.

Antoine Griezmann, house once more after strolling out to affix Barcelona a 12 months later than he had initially thought, hadn’t scored since January, when he discovered the online towards third-tier Rayo Majadahonda within the Copa del Rey. “It is my fault, I settle for that,” Griezmann stated. “The targets will return.” They will must. In his final spell at Atletico, he scored 25, 32, 26, 29 and 21. He now has eight. He hasn’t bought any in LaLiga in 2022, racking up a complete of three league targets all season.

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The summer season’s different large signing, midfielder Rodrigo De Paul, did rating on Wednesday. It was his second purpose, and if he is not there for that — a lot as he bought 9, seven and 9 in his final three seasons in Italy — nor has he discovered a pure place but.

And but this season Atletico have really scored extra targets than final 12 months. “Unimaginable,” Simeone referred to as it, and it’s in probably the most literal sense: watching them, it is exhausting to imagine. It is the sort of statistic that had you checking the numbers as a result of it would not appear to make sense; it would not tally with the attention check. And then you definitely see that they’ve additionally conceded extra. Quite a bit, lot extra. They’ve allowed 41 targets towards, in comparison with 25 final season. It is their worst determine previously decade.

Per week in the past, everybody was banging on about Atletico Madrid doing a guard of honour for Real Madrid, the just lately topped league champions, as custom suggests. The controversy turned tiresome and affected, as this stuff are inclined to, and ultimately Atletico didn’t stand there and applaud Actual Madrid onto the pitch, announcing in advance they were not going to participate in what they stated had turn out to be a pantomime.

As a substitute, they only performed. They beat Actual Madrid 1-0, too, though the grins and the jokes and the beginning XI — no Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric or Vinicius Junior — underlined that, for his or her neighbours no less than, it did not matter a lot.

For Atletico, it mattered quite a bit, simply not for the explanation it may need carried out. Ought to have carried out, maybe.

It was the primary derby that they had received in eight tries, and the primary ever on the Metropolitano; their final win, in 2015, had been on the Vicente Calderon. A run damaged ultimately. However this might have been a title decider, and it wasn’t. Atletico Madrid versus Actual Madrid with 4 video games to go. By no means thoughts whether or not you really do the pasillo; a much bigger challenge is that truth that you just’re ready the place you is perhaps anticipated to, the league title race misplaced 5 weeks earlier than the tip.

Atletico had been at all times the staff that would defend, however they may not defend their league title. It is exhausting to recollect a title defence so poor, actually. It was over nearly earlier than it was carried out, a part of their drawback seemingly the actual fact that they had been champions.

Even once they had been prime after six weeks, Simeone admitted “we’re not the place we need to be.” One thing was not proper, one thing had shifted. “We’d like a change of angle,” Mario Hermoso stated, and that was after a victory. “Everybody desires to win, to raise trophies, however for that to occur there are a great deal of issues that must occur first. Preparation, coaching, angle — that is the muse on which success is constructed,” he admitted. Have a look at their outcomes towards the underside three alone: 14 factors dropped, sufficient to place them prime.

Later within the season Jose Gimenez would admit that “if you win the league, a lot of groups loosen up as a result of they are saying, ‘Effectively, it is occurred.'” Simeone stated: “For a staff like Atletico, it is not straightforward to be champions; it is a membership not used to being champions yearly.” Per week in the past, Jan Oblak stated he did not perceive what was taking place to them, the place their heads had been, “as a result of it is definitely not on the pitch.” On Wednesday night time there was a “dialogue” between him and Renan Lodi.

By the point the derby got here round, the league was lengthy, lengthy gone. It had definitively slipped them by in December, once they misplaced 4 in a row. Now they’re 14 factors behind Actual Madrid, having performed a sport extra.

In the summertime, when Simeone was attempting to influence Griezmann to come back house, he advised that with him, Suarez and Felix, this staff may even win the Champions League. As a substitute, they had been knocked out within the quarterfinals. They took Manchester City to the road, may need received it and doubtless ought to have, however they had been knocked out once more. The concept they had been unfortunate is undermined by this easy truth: they did not win a single sport at house within the competitors. Within the Copa del Rey, they had been knocked out by Real Sociedad, 4-0.

“All kinds of issues occur in a season,” Griezmann stated on Wednesday. Atletico’s strongest-ever squad (or so everybody thought) didn’t compete because it ought to. There was a way of misplaced id all 12 months, a recurring theme going again a while now. That they had a staff that modified weekly. There have been accidents, too — Stefan Savic and Gimenez particularly — and departures. Kieran Trippier left; Daniel Wass, who was signed to switch him, has performed simply 45 minutes. Nothing was ever actually proper.

Simeone admitted that he had discovered himself ready that he had by no means skilled earlier than in 10½ years on the membership. This was “for positive our hardest season,” he stated. Some issues, although, don’t change. In Atletico Madrid’s worst marketing campaign, on Wednesday they secured Champions League soccer for subsequent 12 months. And when you’re saying, “so what?” you’ll be proper to. So they need to do. Simply have a look at the squad, have a look at what it price to assemble. That is the least you might count on. Effectively, it’s now, and that is the purpose. With Simeone, this has turn out to be commonplace, a minimal requirement, the coach partially a sufferer of his personal success, which turns into self-perpetuating. And which completely should be sustained.

After Atletico had been overwhelmed by Levante, Simeone had a gathering with the membership’s CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin and the sporting director Andrea Berta. That was adopted by a gathering with the enjoying employees, through which they had been handed a stark message: if you don’t attain the Champions League, it is your contracts which can be in danger. We will be unable to pay you. Atletico received the subsequent six video games, earlier than that second loss to Mallorca. Champions League qualification was essential to continue to grow and simply to maintain their gamers; that they had budgeted for it. It turns into mutually dependent, a circle: soccer success prompts progress in any respect ranges, which permits for extra soccer success, which permits for … and so forth.

It wasn’t at all times so, and there must be a place to begin.

“After I got here, they requested for 4 or 5 Champions League {qualifications},” Simeone stated. It was wanted to construct, to consolidate and to compete. Neglect 4 or 5: subsequent 12 months it will likely be 10 in a row. Each single full season through which Simeone has been there, a routine, a primary commonplace product of one thing that that was not a certainty, that again then was celebrated as successful. On his four-hundredth league sport as Atletico Madrid coach — seven off the membership report — his staff certified for the competitors for a tenth consecutive season. He and Luis Aragones have taken cost for 807 of two,802 Atletico video games within the first division between them; the opposite coaches common 32 every.

That is 10/10 for Simeone, 3/35 within the interval earlier than him. It’s 10 top-three finishes in a row, in comparison with none within the earlier sixteen seasons, one within the earlier 20.

Of their worst 12 months, they did one thing they might have celebrated as soon as, one thing that may simply have others pondering: “not them once more,” however they are not going away. There was a second seven or eight years in the past, after a sport at Atletico’s previous Calderon stadium — gone now, razed to rubble to depart a motorway operating proper by means of the center of the pitch — when a defeated coach from one other certainly one of Europe’s greatest golf equipment got here by means of and gestured in direction of the pitch. “What a horrible staff, that lot,” he stated, and now they’re again.

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