Atlético Madrid's Heaviest Defeats Under Diego Simeone

Oct 22, 2020, 3:45 PM GMT+1
Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone has guided Atlético Madrid to some of their greatest successes thanks to a strong defensive foundation | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Diego Simeone's approach to winning football matches may divide opinion but the legendary Atlético Madrid manager and former player has never been conflicted when it comes to his philosophy.

After years in the job, El Cholo aptly framed his side's style of play through the needs of the club he returned to as a manager almost a decade ago, saying: "The people of Atlético always wanted a competitive team. A team that was strong in defence. A team that would play on the counter-attack and be a nuisance for the super-powerful sides."

Under Simeone's stewardship Atlético have belligerently adhered to that concise and accurate assessment, though with one or two notable exceptions.

5. Real Madrid 4-1 Atlético Madrid (2014)

Diego Simeone, Bjorn Kuipers
Simeone took to the pitch to remonstrate with the referee during the 2014 Champions League final | Lars Baron/Getty Images

As any good (clichéd) advert for the Champions League will tell you: a lot can change in 90 minutes. But Atlético Madrid can attest to the harsh reality that a fair amount is still up for grabs with 90 seconds left to play.

With a minute and a half remaining, Sergio Ramos flicked in a cruel, equalising header for Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final. Atléti had led since the 36th minute but were forced into another half-hour of the most high stakes Madrid derby.

If Ramos' equaliser hadn't broken Atléti's spirit, more than 100 laborious minutes of hassling and harrying had sapped their energy. After Gareth Bale's go-ahead goal in the second-half of extra time, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo added an undeserved layer of gloss to the scoreline in the final two minutes.

4. Barcelona 4-1 Atlético Madrid (2012)

Lionel Messi sends Thibaut Courtois to the ground as Barcelona swept Atlético Madrid aside in the second half | JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

After the match, Atlético midfielder Gabi delivered his own verdict on his side's trip to Camp Nou in December 2012: "We were great." And for the opening half-hour or so there was little bias in the captain's evaluation.

Radamel Falcao had already hit the post and left Barcelona's backline trailing in his wake before repeating the feat with a delicate chip after 31 minutes.

Yet, the remainder of Gabi's post-match assessment then came to the fore: "But …they were better."

Tito Vilanova's Barça swiftly equalised in this top of the table clash before taking the lead on the cusp of half-time. After the interval Lionel Messi netted two goals - ordinary by his standards, exquisite for mere mortals - to claim his 11th brace in 16 league games by that point of the season.

3. Atlético Madrid 1-4 Real Madrid (2012)

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristia
Atlético Madrid could do little to stop anything Cristiano Ronaldo did when he came to the Vicente Calderón in 2012 | DOMINIQUE FAGET/Getty Images

As the figurehead of their greatest rivals, Cristiano Ronaldo was never going to enjoy a healthy relationship with the Atlético Madrid faithful. Of course, scoring 25 goals against them is hardly going to cool the ferocity of their ire.

Ronaldo netted the first of four career hat-trick against Los Rojiblancos in April 2012, opening with a stunning free-kick and an audacious, swirling long-range drive before sealing the treble from 12 yards.

After again posing a considerable threat throughout a historic beating, Simeone was left to draw some grandiose conclusions post-match: "Cristiano condemned us with his goals. Those goals did not fit the way the game was going but they were decisive. Goals are more important than ideas."

2. Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Atlético Madrid (2018)

Borussia Dortmund's 4-0 humbling of Atlético Madrid in the group stage of the 2018/19 Champions League reverberated around Europe.

600 miles away Jürgen Klopp couldn't help but comment on this seismic result, despite the fact that he had overseen a 4-0 win over Red Star Belgrade for his own side, Liverpool, at the same time, saying afterwards: "No disrespect to Red Star and our win, but what Dortmund did against Atlético is unbelievable."

At half-time, only Axel Witsel's deflected opener separated the sides. But Lucien Favre's team were at their scintillating best after the interval, as the incisive and electric interplay of Achraf Hakimi and Jadon Sancho sliced Atléti open time and again.

1. Bayern Munich 4-0 Atlético Madrid (2020)

Bayern Munich dished out their own warning for the rest of the continent when they swept aside Atlético by the same staggering scoreline in their opening Champions League game of 2020/21.

Kingsley Coman proved too hot to handle for Atlético despite the fact that - at this point it feels obligatory to note - Simeone's team had enjoyed some promising moments in the opening exchanges.

Even in heavy defeat, Simeone's Atléti more often than not live up to their coach's billing as a 'nuisance for the super-powerful sides'.