Wes Morgan equalises and keeps the dream of winning the title at Old Trafford … but sigh! He had to wait for one more week, until 2014-15 PFA player of the year Chelsea’s Eden Hazard scored one of the most decorated goals in his career against Spurs to carry Leicester City over the line. Leicester got the well deserved credit to make this fairytale turned into reality.
Football lovers from all over the world felt very lucky to witness this orgasmic run live. YES, Leicester City are the Premier League champions of season 2015-2016. With all the small financial resources it is indeed very steep hill to climb when you are competing against the likes of so called heavyweights of Premier League. So we must say that Claudio Raneiri has done a great job with this team. But are Leicester the only one who have done it without a sugardaddy? Or is the Italian the only manager who has done it recent times?
A big NO – there is one man in Europe who is silently doing this job for a past couple of seasons. There is one man who is giving everything beside the sidelines whenever his team is playing, be it a tactical switch or his side needs to be cheered up.
Those who follow Spanish football know whenever you are facing Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid it is always very hard nut to crack. He may not get all the hype, all the praise but with all limited resources ‘El Cholo’ has made one heck of an army who can make any opponent bite the dust in their days. Always remaining in the shadows of their city rivals Real Madrid, Atletico is really making their presence feel on the top of the La Liga table for a past couple of seasons.
The former Atletico player took the charge of the team in 2011 in a very turbulent situation, succeeding Gregorio Manzano who had been dismissed the day before following defeat to third tier Albacete in the Spanish Copa Del Rey and they were near the relegation zone in the league table.
Diego Simeone is known as the embodiment of ‘From ashes to glory’, ‘From bankrupcy to Siverware’. He made justice to these sayings in his very first season with the Madrid based Spanish side by winning the UEFA Europa league, beating Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the final in Bucharest. The juggernaut kept on going when he won the UEFA Super Cup, beating Chelsea 4-1 at the Stade Louis 2 in Monaco.
In order to minimize their financial problems, they had to sell their star player Radamel Falcao to Monaco in the following season. When the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona were busy bringing the Premier League star Gareth Bale and the Brazilian sensation Neymar to their side, the red side of Madrid were trying their best with the likes of not so familiar Koke, Costa, Turan, Godin, Juanfran.
Often criticized for this stern physical approach to the game Diego Simeone has a unique style to take the best out of his players and get the most desired result. As a result, Simeone’s men ended up with most clean sheets in European top five leagues in the season 2015-16.
Jose Mourinho is known for a well-identified tactical approach to the game. Jose’s team sit deep, absorb the pressure and hit on the counter whenever possible. Simeone’s style of play is somewhat same but his Atletico side not only depends on pacey counters but on long ball to false nine also. They have a very own style of attacking and defending the set-pieces. They have a knack of scoring vital goals from set-pieces, be it in UEFA Champions League Final or decider against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
When the opponent have possession they form a strong defensive organisation, unless and until the opponent loses the ball the Rojiblancos side keeps the shape of this defensive shield. The first and foremost intention of the team is to press high not only in central areas but in the wide areas too. Klopp’s team will press as well, but they are never so efficient as this side. They try not to allow the central pass and make the opponents use their wing until the opponent wingers cross the ball in the area and their ever depending centre backs get the better of the opponent forward and get a chance to make a counter.
Diego Simeone has always been one of the most animated coaches on the sidelines. From kicking ball to prevent opponents’ counter to leaving his technical area the argentine has always been in the core of the heat.
The brightest side of Simeone is that he knows how to get the best out of his players. He knows how to use his team strength. He may not be one who directs the most attracting style of play but one who will give your midfielders and your classy forwards a very hard time. He is in charge in a time when their city rivals have the likes of Bale-Benzema-Cristiano and Barcelona have one of the most feared forward line in the form of Messi-Neymar-Suarez.
From winning the league at Camp Nou to reach two UEFA Champions League finals in two seasons we can say that this man has done something historic in Spanish Football. In 1966 world cup we have seen fascinating ecological paradox when alliance of two bipolar personalities in the form of Alf Ramsey and Bobby Moore converted a greatest drinker to a greatest captain and produced England’s greatest legacy ever. The modern era of Spanish football is no different when glamourous players are not only competing with each other but also against the tactical mastermind of Diego Simeone to acquire a space in Spain’s legacy book.
Diego and his men broke the duopoly and almost became the champions of Europe twice. Those who argued Spanish football is only about Barcelona and Real Madrid, Simeone’s men are a slap on their face. After coming back to the top division in Spain we have seen inconsistent performances from Atletico in spite of having the likes of Simao-Aguero-Reyes-Falcao but when Simeone took charge, he showed how to win, how to come out from the shadows of everglowing city rivals and show the world that money cannot buy class but hard work, determination, passion can.
Simeone will remain in the hearts of football lovers for not uprooting the duopoly of Barca-Real or not taking the so called lack-lustre team twice in UCL final. He will be known as a manager who showed the world that “when going gets tough, the tough gets going”.