[OP-ED]: Simeone’s Effect
It was a cold fall night, a typical night you can experience if you visit the North of Spain. Rain was threating to come down over Bilbao and finally did at halftime of the soccer match. It was a game between the two Atléticos. Before an excited crowd, the local Atlético defeated the capital one, 3-0.
Six months later, the two clubs met again, but this time in the Europa League championship contest. Despite the teams and the players being the same, the score was exactly the opposite: Atlético Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao, 3-0. The difference was in the champion’s bench. Gregorio Manzano did not manage the team from the capital anymore. Its coach was Argentinean Diego Pablo “Cholo” Simeone.
Four years and five seasons have gone by. Since that first success, “Cholo” has guided Madrid’s weak club to Europe’s elite group, coaching Atlético to Spanish coach and league titles in 2013 and reaching the Champions League final twice (2014 and 2016). In both occasions, Simeone’s squad lost cruelly to archrival Real Madrid, in overtime and penalty kicks.
Thanks to his toughness, dedication and compromise, Simeone has led Atlético to become the third wheel in a league owned by two powerhouses: Real and Barcelona. With the wise leadership of the Argentinean, Atlético defeated Real in the 2013 Cup championship game and eliminated twice FC Barcelona from the Champions League.
But why is this coach so special?
I think his best asset is being able to pass on his virtues to those who surround him. If Simeone believes in a project, the whole Atlético fan base believes. If Simeone shows intensity at every practice, at every game, all his players do it as well. If Simeone thinks big, club executives also do, fighting to sign key stars that will make the team win.
We are only four weeks into a new league, but Atlético has started strong again. Last Saturday, Cholo guided his squad to a big win over Sporting Gijón, 5-0, as a preview of this week’s matchup at Barcelona.
It is true, the Spanish League is made for two, but Simeone’s Effect allows every year Atlético’s fans to dream with taking the glory away from Real Madrid and Barcelona. It happened in the 2012-2013 season. Could the great deed be repeated four years after? If you ask the Argentinean coach, he will answer affirmatively, getting everybody around him to believe it can be done.