Atlético Madrid

Diego Simeone's greatest games at Atletico Madrid

Grey Whitebloom
Dec 31, 2020, 7:00 PM GMT
Diego Simeone has overseen a seminal era in Atletico Madrid's history
Diego Simeone has overseen a seminal era in Atletico Madrid's history | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
facebooktwitterreddit

When Diego Simeone walked through the doors of Atletico Madrid for the third time in December 2011, the first as a coach, it was the union of two entities emphatically entwined with one another, but a pair lacking any reputation of longevity.

In the 15 years since the club's last title triumph in 1996, Atletico had employed 16 different coaches. Simeone, less than six years into his managerial career, was now at his seventh club. Yet, 500 games on and the two are still together, and better than ever.

Across his near decade at the helm, 'El Cholo' - once Atletico's favourite son as a player - has sculpted a string of teams in his own image: committed, passionate, intense, but not always the easiest on the eye.

Yet, as Simeone rightly pointed out after he led the club to their first title since his playing days in 2014: "There is more than one way to win."

Safely ensconced at the summit of La Liga half a century of games later, Simeone's chapter in Atletico's history is still being written.

1. 2011/12 - Atletico Madrid 3-0 Athletic Club

Simeone hoists aloft the first of two Europa League trophies he would win as manager of Atletico Madrid
Simeone hoists aloft the first of two Europa League trophies he would win as manager of Atletico Madrid | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The chant of: "Ole, ole, ole, Cholo Simeone!" may have rang around the Vicente Calderon during the Argentine's first game at the helm, but Atletico were still very much a work in progress.

Simeone inherited a team hovering above the relegation zone and hauled them to fifth, capping a stunning maiden (half) campaign with European silverware at the expense of his former national team manager Marcelo Bielsa.

2. 2012/13 - Real Madrid 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Thibaut Courtois (right) was seven the last time Atletico had beaten Real Madrid going into the 2013 Copa del Rey final
Thibaut Courtois (right) was seven the last time Atletico had beaten Real Madrid going into the 2013 Copa del Rey final | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

After the final whistle blew, Simeone couldn't precisely rank it among the club's achievements, but even he conceded that 'in many years' time, it will be remembered'. Even with the club's subsequent successes under his watch, El Cholo was right.

Atletico Madrid finally ended the curse against their white-shirted city rivals on the grandest of stages, beating Real Madrid for the first time since 1999 in the Copa del Rey final at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It doesn't get much better than that.

3. 2013/14 - Chelsea 1-3 Atletico Madrid

Simeone (left) is unbeaten in his three meetings with Jose Mourinho's sides in cup competitions
Simeone (left) is unbeaten in his three meetings with Jose Mourinho's sides in cup competitions | ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images

Simeone got the better of Jose Mourinho once more the following season, as he steered Atletico to their first European Cup final in 40 years with victory at Stamford Bridge in the semis.

Without a single new signing in the starting XI, Atletico conceded just their sixth goal in 12 Champions League games to a player the Rojiblancos faithful would never begrudge a strike, Fernando Torres.

At the end of a draining night, Simeone delivered a telling message which highlighted the strength of his squad: "I want to say thanks to the mothers who gave birth to these players: they have huge balls."

4. 2013/14 - Barcelona 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Before the start of the 2013/14 campaign, Atletico Madrid hadn't spent a single day at the top of the league for the best part of two decades. In fact, they'd been in the second tier more recently. Yet, going into the final weekend of the season, Atleti were at the table's summit and needed just a point to secure the club's first league title since Simeone won the double as a player in 1996.

Having dropped five points in their past two games, the nerves must have been jangling even more as they trailed Barcelona at half-time. Regardless, Simeone insisted to his squad that 'we had played well' at the break. Diego Godin rewarded their performance with a thunderous equalising header four minutes after the restart.

Atleti held on and were given a deserved standing ovation by the Camp Nou stadium at the final whistle as Simeone ingrained himself even further into the club's history.

5. 2014/15 - Atletico Madrid 4-0 Real Madrid

Simeone has only won nine of his 33 Madrid derbies across all competitions, but oversaw a game to remember in February 2015
Simeone has only won nine of his 33 Madrid derbies across all competitions, but oversaw a game to remember in February 2015 | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Atletico's only home La Liga victory over their fierce rivals in the 21st century was at least an emphatic one - only once in the club's history have they triumphed in the Madrid derby by a larger margin.

6. 2015/16 - Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich

It took a moment of inspiration from Saul Niguez for Atletico to score, but the clean sheet they kept against Pep Guardiola's prolific Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals was all but standard practice for Simeone and co.

Atletico built upon their 14th shutout in 16 Champions League home games to advance to their second final in three years that season.

7. 2019/20 - Liverpool 2-3 Atletico Madrid

When informed of the barbs fired his way byLiverpool's bitter manager Jurgen Klopp, following Atletico's progression to the Champions League quarter-finals at his expense, Simeone delivered the ultimate description of how his side plays: “To win, with all our soul.”

8. 2020/21 - Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona

Simeone may have thrice tasted victory against Barcelona in all competitions, but the Atletico boss, in 17 previous attempts, had never beaten the Catalan giants.

That is until El Cholo tweaked his setup - deploying Yannick Carrasco as an all-action left-wingback - to outwit and outplay the Blaugrana for great swathes of their November encounter, cementing their title charge in what could prove to be Simeone's greatest season yet.

facebooktwitterreddit