The six and a half years of the Argentine coach in charge of Atlético de Madrid have been full of successes, but also of frustrations like the Champions League
"Going out champion raises the season to a higher level." These were the words of Atlético de Madrid's technical director, Diego Pablo Simeone, at a press conference held on May 9 at the Wanda Metropolitan facilities. This affirmation comes from the technician who in his first three years, at the institution, won 5 titles with different "flavors" (a Europa League, a European Super Cup, a Copa del Rey, a League and a Spanish Super Cup)
The Argentine coach is aware of the importance of winning the final of the Europa League that will take place on May 16, in Lyon, France, leaving behind a season that had ups and downs, both in La Liga and in the Champions League.
In the first, the team is second with 78 points, three more than Real Madrid, with the same number of games played. However, there are still two dates in play, so in addition to losing the league -which Barcelona has already won-, it can also lose the second position.
As for the Champions League, this competition again escaped the team this time in the group stage. However, by retaining at least the third position in Group C of the Champions League, Atlético was able to participate in the Europa League. After all, in this competition, the team could reach the final.
Two lost Champions League finals (2014 and 2016) were a very hard blow for the team. In addition to the disappointment of losing, the greatest pain was felt when the executioner on both occasions was his playground rival: Real Madrid. For this reason, winning the Europa League in France, against Olympique de Marseille, can be a great boost for a team that has not seen the glory for almost four years.
Since Simeone arrived to the team, on December 23, 2011, the Madrid team has seen the achievement of five titles and with it the respect of the teams of Spain and Europe in general.
The first title came on May 9, 2012, when they won the Europa League title against Atlético de Bilbao 3-0. Also in 2012, the team reached the European Supercup against Chelsea (winner of the Champions League that year), thanks to a 4-1 result, with a hat-trick by Falcao García.
2013 was not a different year. In the final of the Copa del Rey, the squad managed to snatch the victory of Real Madrid, with a goal from Miranda that sentenced the final 2-1 in overtime.
Finally, the last title reached during the 'era Simeone' came in 2014, when winning the league of Spain. A goal by Diego Godín at the Camp Nou, against Barcelona, revived the success achieved in 1996, the year in which they had won the national championship for the last time, with 'El Cholo' as a player.
However, since that triumph, the glory of the 'First place' has not returned to the team’s statistics.
"If tomorrow Simeone leaves, will the fans continue to consider him a hero?" That was the question that the president of Atlético de Madrid, Enrique Cerezo, did
The end of Griezmann?
In addition to the final in Lyon, the Atleti has to think about the following season, for which there is a big doubt: Antoine Griezmann. The 27 year old Frenchman is the maximum referent of the attack and his possible going to Barcelona would be a low level for the club. While Simeone has been airtight on the subject and says he sees Griezmann well, "training and competing well", the rumors of transfer say otherwise.
According to Cadena SER, Atlético would already be in search of Ángel Di María, a player who now plays for Paris Saint Germain. Additionally, the 'Kun' Agüero would also be on the wish list. "Both parties have shown interest and have been summoned to future conversations", assure low Spanish media.
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"If tomorrow Simeone leaves ..."
This is why in addition to the departure of Griezmann, a possible defeat in the final match of the Europa League could mean the departure of Simeone from the team.
Although the Argentine coach signed in 2017 a renewal of his contract until June 2020, one more disappointment may be the dominant factor for his farewell. However, the love that the Atletico fans have for Simeone puts in doubt that if this one goes away, it is because of the supporters of the club of the capital of Spain.
"If Simeone goes tomorrow, will the fans continue to consider him a hero?" Was the question that the president of Atlético de Madrid, Enrique Cerezo, planted in an interview with the magazine 'Panenka'.
Of course, the affection of the fans towards 'El Cholo' has to do with their faith because he is the one who returns the success that has been elusive in the last four years. Even so, would they still love him if it was the Argentinian who decided to step aside and not the club?
Latin American Post | Christopher Ramírez
Translated from “ ¿La final de la Europa League podría determinar el futuro del 'Cholo' Simeone?”