Atletico Madrid’s expectations in the Champions League reflect the growth of the club under Diego Simeone.

Luis Suarez He did not wait and did not look back. At the end of Atletico Madrid’s match against Elche on Wednesday night, he went straight down the tunnel, while still upset about his goal being disallowed. He felt he needed it – a little excuse at the end of a tough season, a reminder that he was still here. He had only started one of the last five games and his last goal was seven games ago against Alaves. In recent weeks, he has rarely come off the bench. This year, he scored half of his goals last season, when he led Atletico to the La Liga title.

He is still their top scorer.

Suarez has scored 11 goals in the league Feels Like a starter Matthew Kona, Signed in the summer, has six. Zhao Felix – the most expensive player in the history of the club with a transfer fee of 126 million euros, and male coach Diego Simeone says that even if Zhao is constantly angry with him, he will continue to hope that one day he will put it together – – Injured. He has eight. Marcus LlorenteWho scored 12 goals in the league last season, double-digit for both goals and assists, has no goals at all.

Antoine GriezmannHe returned home a year later than he initially thought he would leave to join Barcelona, ​​and has not scored since scoring in January when he scored against Copa del Rey third division side Rayo Majadahonda. . “It’s my fault, I accept that,” Griezmann said. “Goals will come back.” They have to. He scored 25, 32, 26, 29 and 21 goals in his last time at Atletico. He now has 8 goals. He has not scored a goal in La Liga in 2022 and has scored three goals in the entire season.

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Another big purchase of the summer, midfielder Rodrigo Di Paul scored on Wednesday. This was his second goal, and although he is out for it – despite the fact that he has scored 9, 7 and 9 goals in his last three seasons in Italy – he has not yet found a natural place.

And yet, Atletico have really scored this season More Simeone called last year’s goals “unbelievable,” and that’s true: they’re hard to believe. This is the statistic that forces you to look at numbers because it does not seem logical. Does not match eye test. And then you see that they also gave more points. Much, much more. They have scored 41 goals, compared to 25 last season. This is their worst number in the last decade.

One week ago, everyone criticized Atletico Madrid as a guard of honor for Real Madrid, the recent league champions who have been crowned, as tradition shows. The discussion became boring and affecting, as these things tend, and eventually Atletico stood there and did not cheer on Real Madrid on the pitch, announcing in advance that they were not going to take part in what they said was pantomime.

Instead, they just played. They also beat Real Madrid 1-0, although smiles and jokes and the main squad – no Thibaut Courtois، Karim Benzema، Luka Modric Or Vinicius Jr. – stressed that at least for their neighbors does not matter much.

For Atletico, it was very important, just because it might have done it. It should have been done, perhaps.

It was the first derby they won in eight attempts and the first in the Metropolitano. Their last win was in 2015 at the Vicente Calderon. A run finally failed. But that could have been the title, and it was not. Atletico Madrid have four games left against Real Madrid. It does not matter if you’re really doing it پسلو; A bigger issue is the fact that you are in a situation where you might be expected to win the league championship five weeks before the end.

Atletico have always been a team that could have defended, but could not defend its league title. In fact, it’s hard to remember defending a title so weak. It was almost over before it was over, part of their problem was apparently the fact that they were heroes.

Even when they topped the table after six weeks, Simeone admitted that “we are not where we want to be.” Something was wrong, something had changed. “We need to change attitudes” Mario Hermoso Said and this was after the victory. “Everyone wants to win, to win trophies, but for that to happen, a lot of things have to happen first. Preparation, practice, attitude – this is the foundation on which success is built,” he said. ” Look at their results against the last three teams alone: ​​14 points have been reduced, which is enough to raise them.

Later in the season Jose Jimenez He admits that “when you win the league, a lot of teams calm down because they say, ‘Well, that’s what happened.’ “It is not easy for a team like Atletico to win,” says Simeone. This is a club that is not used to being. They become champions every year. “One week ago, Yan Oblak He said he did not know what would happen to them, where their heads were, “because he certainly is not on the field.” Wednesday night between him and Renan Lody.

It was a long league when the derby started, Long Gone. In December, when they lost four in a row, he definitely lost them. Now they are 14 points behind Real Madrid and have played one more game.

In the summer, when Simeone was trying to persuade Griezmann to return home, he suggested that with him, Suarez and Felix, the team could even win the Champions League. Instead they were eliminated in the quarter-finals. They put Manchester City on the offensive line, they might have won and probably should have won, but they were eliminated again. The idea that they were unlucky is undermined by this simple fact: they did not win a single game at home in this competition. They were eliminated in the Copa del Rey 4-0 against Real Sociedad.

“Everything happens in one season,” Griezmann said Wednesday. The strongest team in Atletico history (or as everyone thought) did not compete as it should. There was a sense of lost identity throughout the year, a recurring theme that goes back some time. They had a team that changed every week. There were also injuries – Stefan Savich And Gimenez in particular – and departure. Kairan Tripir Left; Daniel WasWho had a contract to replace him, played only 45 minutes. Nothing was really right.

Simeone admitted that he found himself in a situation he had never experienced in his 10 and a half years at the club. “It was definitely our hardest season,” he said. But some things do not change. In Atletico Madrid’s worst season, on Wednesday, they secured the Champions League for next year. And if you say, “So what?” You’s right so they should do it. Just look at the team, see how much it costs to collect. This is the least you can expect. Well, it’s right now, and here’s the point. With Simeone, this has become a standard condition, the coach is partly a victim of his own success, which becomes self-sustaining. And it definitely needs to be maintained.

After Atletico lost to Levante, Simeone met with Miguel گngel Gil Marin, the club’s general manager, and Andrea Bertha, the club’s sporting director. After that, a meeting was held with the game staff, in which a clear message was given to them: If you do not reach the Champions League, it is your contracts that are in danger. We will not be able to pay you. Atletico won the next six games, before losing for the second time against Mallorca. Achieving the Champions League quota was essential for the continued growth and retention of their players. They had a budget for that. It depends on a circle: the success of football leads to growth at all levels, which allows for greater success in football, … etc.

This has not always been the case and there must be a starting point.

“When I came, they asked me to play in the Champions League four or five times,” Simeone said. It was necessary to build, stabilize and compete. Forget four or five: next year there will be 10 people in a row. Every complete chapter in which Simeone was present is a routine, an initial standard made of something that was not certain, and was celebrated at the time as a success. In his 400th league game as Atletico Madrid coach – seven club records – his team entered the competition for the tenth consecutive season. He and Luis Aragones were responsible for 807 of Atletico 2802 first division games. The other coaches each have an average of 32.

This is 10/10 for Simeone, 3/35 in the period before him. These are the first 10 seasons to three consecutive finals, compared to none in the previous sixteen seasons, one in the previous 20 seasons.

In the worst year of their lives, they did something they once celebrated, something that might make others think, “Not them anymore,” but they will not go away. A moment seven or eight years ago, after a game at the old Atletico Calderon Stadium – now a rubble to the highway that runs right through the middle of the pitch – was a failed coach from one of the biggest clubs European clubs entered and pointed to the playing field. “What a terrible team, that many,” he said, and now they are back.

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