Hard to say but it is a safe bet that it will take about ten thousand years for Barcelona and Espanyol to pull of something as dramatic and rare as Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid.
Barcelona can dance themselves to death for their (barely) won La Liga crown while the two teams from Madrid compete at the highest stage in the football world (after the World Cup of course) yet again. Inside four years.
But let’s forget about Barcelona since it’s Madrid’s moment. People at Barcelona have had their turn but now it’s Madrid’s turn. And to be fair to our friendly rivals, Barcelona, it is somewhat true that they have been an inspiration to a lot of teams in football. They still are.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of Atletico Madrid. Football fans, especially the ones that hate Real Madrid, continue to praise Atletico Madrid for breaking the status quo by knocking out Barcelona and Bayern Munich. These are clubs that buy players worth more than Atletico Madrid as a whole so it is understandable why what Atletico Madrid has achieved this season and the season before is truly remarkable.
But let’s not pretend that Simeone’s Atletico Madrid is anywhere close to what could be called a great defensive side. Atletico Madrid is not Milan of the past or even a prime Juventus. Those teams defended on the field by the book. Atletico Madrid is the master of dark arts in football.
In short, Atletico Madrid destroy football regardless of whether they win or lose.
Real Madrid needs to stop the menace that Atletico Madrid is. Here is how:
1.Don’t play Danilo
Let there be no mistake about it. There is only one man and one man only who has united Real Madrid’s usually divisive fan base and that man is Danillo.
Has there ever been a player who has been hated more by Real Madrid’s fans? Ever?. Not sure.
Zidane seems to have listened to all us folks who have been preaching the same message throughout the world the day Real Madrid (or was it Benitez?) signed this sloth of a right back.
Danilo cannot play against Atletico Madrid in the final no matter what happens. If it comes down to it, Zidane should opt for Ramos at right back with Varane and Pepe in the center of defense.
Marcelo isn’t acceptable as a defender either but he more than makes up for it while going forward. Danillo, on the other hand, has the ugliest first touch since Carlton Palmer.
Danillo, also, can’t defend very well. He isn’t strong in the air and doesn’t stand up well to one vs one situations which against Atletico Madrid would happen quite a lot since they break quickly down the wings on the counter attack.
2.Give atletico madrid some of its own medicine.
Atletico Madrid needs to know that other players can play ugly and dirty as well. Just because Real Madrid (or Barcelona) don’t do drugs does not mean they can’t do drugs. Ronaldo almost killed Manquilla with this collision and Bale isn’t a cuddly little teddy bear either.
Zidane should instruct the likes of Casemiro and Kroos to go into tackles with some menace just to sound out Atletico Madrid that you only give what you can take.
Isco before James but James before Lucas Vasquez.
Lucas Vasques, for all his plaudits, is not Champions League material yet. Yes, the guy can run, track back and is surprisingly effective when taking on defenders on the wing. But you cannot expect anything extraordinary from him and that is exactly what Real Madrid needs in order to beat Atletico Madrid’s water tight defense. Something extraordinary.
Therefore, it would be best for Zidane to start with Isco because he can hold up the ball well and has great ball control when put under pressure, and then as the game goes on and Isco gets weary, bring on James to turn up the heat on Atletico Madrid who are bound to make mistakes in the final minutes of games because of the high tempo the keep for most of the time.
Isco and James also make far better decision than Lucas Vasquez. And for what it’s worth, James might actually decide to stay at Real Madrid if Real Madrid win the Champions League through one of his contributions.
Master the basics.
Atletico Madrid always gives you one chance to score a reasonably difficult goal. The likes of Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema and James should forget about flair and concentrate on their basics of actually finishing off a chance if and when it comes in the final.
We saw in the last game against Atletico Madrid at Bernabeu, Ronaldo missed the easiest header of his life, unchallenged inside the 12 yard penalty spot and that cost Real Madrid a massive three points which could won us the league as well if you like to think that way.
In the last final, Bale missed some sitters for a player of his calibre and you can bet Atletico Madrid won’t concede a headed goal in the 94rth minute this time around to lose in extra time 4-1.
The right back and left back cannot get caught out while Atletico Madrid break.
Stop this simple Atletico Madrid attack and you stop Atletico Madrid completely. Torres and Griezmann do not have the pace to live with Carvajal and Marcelo (when he is defending) and while Ramos and Pepe aren’t exactly slouches either, Real Madrid must ensure that the two at the front of Atletico Madrid don’t get to go against the center two of Real Madrid on the counter.
Atletico Madrid always break from the middle and towards the wings. That is how they beat Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
The easiest lesson Real Madrid can learn from those two matches is to not allow Atletico Madrid to soak up all the pressure and catch Real Madrid on the break when Marcelo and Carvajal are in advanced positions down the wing.
There is the small matter of not being out of position as well but you can’t expect that from Marcelo or can you?
It is really hard to not commend Atletico Madrid for what it has done for the past three or four seasons.
Let’s not forget, before Simeone, Atletico Madrid had barely beaten Real Madrid in the twenty first century. They were Real Madrid’s, as tennis terms, bunny team. Always getting beat badly.
Times have changed, Atletico Madrid have done away with anything that could be remotely considered to being close to what the general population of this planet know as football.
In the end, for every Atletico Madrid, there is a Real Madrid and Barcelona.
For every Simeone, you have Guardiola and Zidane.
It would have been nice to see Real Madrid win La Liga title this year (or any year) but there can be no doubt that there will be those elements in this Real Madrid camp who would have preferred Barcelona to win the league over Atletico Madrid just because of Atletico Madrid’s anti-football tactics.
Atletico Madrid, probably, deserved to be in the title race for as long as they did this season and possibly deserve a spot in the finals of the Champions League as well. But Simeone’s style of play will continue to ensure that he doesn’t end up at a club like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester United.
In short, any club that has the slightest regard for football purity would likely get a restraining order against Simeone.