The Champions League will have Atlético de Madrid as a participant for another year. Before the arrival of Simeone, the Madrilenians had only participated in the European Cup seven times (prior to 1996 it was only disputed by the league champions). With this, there are now nine seasons in which they have been in the competition since the arrival of the Argentine, who was always clear about the level of the club. “As a player I didn’t change the Atleti shirt, they had to give me two. You were worth more “.
Atlético de Madrid faces the Champions League this season with the best squad in the country, although it is not enough to be a favorite in the top continental competition. The arrival of Griezmann is the trigger that the team needs, very dependent in the last year on the goals of Suárez. In a double game, anything can happen in front of the colchoneros regardless of the rival in front of them.
The team’s wardrobe will be essential to face the three competitions. Even more this year, in which they start as favorites in the League. On Sunday, the Atleti bench was packed with players who would start at any good European club: Joao Félix, Lemar, Héctor Herrera, Giménez, Lodi, De Paul… They could almost make up another eleven with the substitutes. Imagine the level of the headlines.
More of Suárez in Champions
Luis Suárez was at an extraordinary level in the league last season thanks to his 21 goals. However, in the European competition he did not show the same performance: he did not add any so much in the locker. In addition, the Uruguayan has not scored an away goal in the Champions League since September 2015.
The team remains competitive despite the decade that Simeone has accumulated on the bench. Koke has already ruled on the continuity of the Argentine: “Simeone is still as heavy as the first day.” Although the project seemed hurt with the elimination in the group stage for failing to beat Qarabag, it is now more alive than ever after winning the second league in seven years. ‘El Cholo’ has put the national board in checkmate. And he wants to consolidate Atleti even higher, in the European. The only thing missing is the jewel in the crown, the Champions League.
Simeone has prioritized the League more in recent years than the Champions League. Atlético de Madrid has accumulated five consecutive seasons in which it does not go beyond the quarterfinals. It is an excellent result, if one takes into account the budgetary difference compared to the rest of the European teams. However, given what has been achieved over the years with the two finals in three years, it seems little to some.
Madrid, the executioner
Real Madrid, his neighbor, has been the great executioner of Atleti in the Champions League. It has not only been for the final two, a wound that will never heal; there have been two more eliminations that left the rojiblancos out of the way to the Champions League. Chicharito’s goal and Benzema’s dribbling. Surely Simeone still has both plays in mind.
Sabina’s hymn says it clearly: “What a way to suffer …”. Without suffering, Atleti has not achieved anything in the Champions League. He has reached both finals after overcoming tough qualifying rounds. In Lisbon, he left Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea behind, while in Milan his victims were PSV, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. It is surprising that he surpassed the Catalans on both occasions: in 30 games as a coach against them he has only won four.
The Madrilenians will have to make a great qualifying phase if they want to achieve the ticket for the second round. This is by far the most difficult group of all the ones that have been since Simeone arrived: Liverpool, Milan and Porto. This is a double-edged sword because they can be eliminated, but they can also be aware of what awaits them after the first phase. Perhaps this is the season of its definitive consecration in Europe.