Real Madrid were been beaten by their city rivals Atlético yet again at the weekend. But this time Los Blancos were well and truly humbled by four goals to zero. Coach Diego Simeone’s side have now played Real six times this season, winning four and drawing the other two.
And every lover of football should rejoice about the Atlético Madrid story. Because things like this aren’t supposed to happen in the modern game.
Teams like the one that the visionary Simeone has brought together, on a fraction of the budget of their big rivals, are supposed to disperse and die after one surprise season.
There was indeed talk of many players leaving The Vicente Calderon this summer, after a season in which they won the league, against all the odds, and came within a minute of taking The Champions League too.
But Simeone has held on to most of his key men like Arda Turan and Koke. The biggest hitter to leave last summer was Diego Costa – to Chelsea for £30m – but he wasn’t missed on Saturday as his replacement, Mario Mandzukic, overwhelmed the opposition almost on his own.
It was a thoroughly convincing display from a team which goes from strength to strength. The victory not only cut the gap between them and Real Madrid to four points but also served a hammer blow to the confidence of a side who were virtually unstoppable before the new year.
Real Madrid look anything but that right now and have really suffered from the absence of Luka Modric, who works so hard and keeps things ticking in the midfield. There will be talk of a crisis in Spain of course, as the natural balance has been so badly disturbed.
But, in all likelihood, Real Madrid will recover and they still have a good chance of domestic and European glory this season. But the Madrid minnows have once again shown that they aren’t planning to sell off their stars and make life easy for the big two just yet.
It’s a truly wonderful story and we simply hope that Atlético Madrid continue to strengthen and can make this a lasting triumvirate at the top of La Liga. Most importantly they need to hold on to Diego Simeone. Without him, this incredible team spirit may soon die.