We’re knee-deep in churros and Mahou for this week’s Disaster Membership, gorging our body weight in each till our waistbands increase to breaking level.
That is proper, it is time to try Atletico Madrid, these nice sh*thouses of yesteryear, who’re having a tough time placing themselves again collectively after their very own decadent explosions in La Liga and the Champions League over the previous week or so.
Like his hair, is Diego Simeone’s distinctive model of anti-football beginning to put on a bit skinny in Spain? Time to dig in, with one other plate of croquetas whereas we’re at it please, Señor. God, I miss Spanish meals.
It started two weeks in the past throughout Atletico’s Champions League recreation towards Bayer Leverkusen. With the scores stage, Atleti had been very generously awarded a penalty for handball on the final kick of the sport. The Wanda Metropolitano erupted and Simeone, who was midway down the tunnel already resigned to a draw and an early group stage exit, got here skulking again to observe the 98th-minute spot-kick.
Up stepped Yannick Carrasco to fireside straight into Lukas Hradecky, Saul Niguez to move the rebound off the bar and Reinildo to hit that rebound towards Carrasco and out of play.
Three days later, they performed second-from-bottom Cadiz in La Liga and went a aim down inside 30 seconds. Cadiz made it two within the 81st minute and that seemed like that till a Joao Felix-inspired comeback levelled issues at 2-2 with simply over a minute over regular time remaining. You possibly can in all probability sense what’s coming right here. A 98th-minute counterattack and fortuitous winner for the Andalucian minnows with the final kick, no, unintentional thigh of the sport.
Since then Atleti have misplaced to Porto, ruling them out of Europe altogether as Leverkusen snatched third place within the group and consequent Europa League spot, and drawn at house with relegation-battlers Espanyol. Who had been a person down from the twenty eighth minute. And likewise took the lead.
As soon as once more, they solely scored (and seemed like scoring) by a person second of Joao Felix brilliance.
‘El Cholo’ is coming as much as 11 years in control of Atletico Madrid this December and has a contract till 2024 that makes him the very best paid head coach in world soccer. Alongside Luis Aragones and Helenio Herrera he’ll go down as one among their best ever managers. You possibly can’t overstate the job he has performed with Atleti provided that the membership spent two seasons within the Segunda Division on the flip of the millennium and had completed seventh the season previous to his arrival.
Simeone completed fifth in his debut season however has cemented Atleti’s place within the high three ever since, together with two wonderful title-winning seasons, two Champions League Finals, a Copa del Rey and two Europa League and UEFA Tremendous Cup titles.
Now, nevertheless, that golden interval is drifting away within the rear-view mirror as a bloated, ageing and ill-balanced squad are struggling to grind out outcomes as they’ve performed earlier than. Simeone’s rancid own-brand soccer is okay while you’re successful, it is a exhausting promote while you’re not.
Oh, and he nonetheless appears deeply suspicious of anybody who describes themselves as a full-back after Kieran Trippier clearly smashed in his little coronary heart in two by returning to England.
We’re now over 350 video games into his Atletico profession and nonetheless do not know which place Saul Niguez ought to play, whereas defensive midfielder turned auxiliary ahead turned precise ahead turned proper wing-back turned central midfielder Marcos Llorente has now discovered a brand new house as a slim proper winger in a 4-4-2.
Axel Wistel, who began the season as a ball-playing centre-back in the midst of a again three, has now returned to central midfield. The entire thing is a large number, mainly, as Simeone continues to flip between formation and personnel seemingly at random. The wall in his workplace is roofed in what at this level and barely any of it has caught.
Briefly, issues have lastly grown a bit too stale and the monetary implications of lacking out on the Champions League knockout levels imply that maybe for the very first time, Simeone’s place is significantly below menace. Maybe the decline has been so gradual we have not actually seen till now.
Not a straightforward factor to do, is it, sacking somebody like Diego Simeone? Cannot think about he’d take it significantly effectively. It will not be a agency handshake and a see you round, thanks for our solely trophies of the final quarter century. However that is likely to be the one possibility right here for Atleti, as they’ve the likes of Athletic Membership, Actual Betis, Actual Sociedad and even Osasuna all threatening to leap into the highest 4 at their expense.
The choice is to belief within the man that may in any other case smash a number of massive and invaluable workplace ornaments and swear at you in such uniquely poetic Spanish filth that it’ll by no means be repeated, even by Gerard Pique to a referee.
Atleti have two upcoming video games towards mid-table Mallorca within the league and fifth-tier facet Almazan within the Copa. Something aside from two convincing victories ought to imply curtains for Don Diego forward of the World Cup.
I believe it was the good T.S. Eliot who mentioned: “That is the way in which the Cholo ends, Not with a bang however a whimper.”