“Just winning, just winning, the rest doesn’t matter,” Diego Pablo Simeone has been repeating all week in every corner of the locker room. The same mantra that he used in the days before the matches against Real Sociedad and Osasuna, definitive for Atlético to appear this Saturday in Valladolid (18.00, Movistar LaLiga) depending on itself to win the championship. A victory at José Zorrilla would mean the second league title in the Simeone era after that of 2014. If he succeeds, his enthronement and his status as a legend will no longer have limits for the inflated mattress. It would be his eighth wound in the nine years he has been on the Atlético bench.
The rojiblanco coach does not want to know anything about what begins to happen between Real Madrid and Villarreal at the same time, although a draw or a defeat for Zidane’s team also means that Atlético adds its eleventh LaLiga title whatever it does. in Valladolid. Sergio González’s team needs to win and hope that Elche does not beat Athletic in Martínez Valero and that Valencia defeat Huesca in Alcoraz. “It is a final. Two teams are fighting for different goals and we will both give up our lives for that goal, ”the Argentine coach warned this Friday with a certain tone of drama at a press conference. The tension that accumulates was betrayed by his terse answers. Simeone just wants a match. Since the agonizing victory against Osasuna (2-1), the coach has tried to clean his head and that of his players. Koke has been his most faithful collaborator in the task. The captain has also insisted that the match is a final, but with nuances, as he does not have to face, with all due respect to Valladolid, a European or Spanish classic. The message spread by the booth has also pointed to the absence of public in the stands, as one of the factors that helps reduce tension during the meeting.
The Atlético squad has been pampered during the week with pleasant training sessions by their coach. The group received a hearing from Miguel Ángel Gil Marín on Wednesday. This time, the club’s top shareholder did not deliver a speech to the entire squad. In groups of three or four players, or in some cases individually, Gil Marín was interested in each of them.
“Do not hit balls, to see if they are going to tear,” Cholo has been heard ironic with his players. The plan is to repeat the ambitious approaches recovered since the visit to the Camp Nou. With the team in the opposite field for as long as possible, the positioning with which he added 50 points in the first round and with which he has defended the leadership in recent days under pressure from Madrid and Barça blowing his neck. “I am concerned that my team can continue to respond as in the last games, that is what we are looking for against Valladolid,” says Simeone. There is a general conviction in Atlético that this should be the formula to solve the match and not have to be aware of what Madrid does.
The absence of Savic due to suspension is a sensitive loss for this plan to pressure the rival in the opposite field. The Montenegrin central defender, who has become one of the most visible leaders in the dressing room, has been the most reliable defender for Simeone. Above all, to abort the opponent’s counterattacks with the defensive line so advanced.
Giménez, who comes out of an injury, should occupy Savic’s place if his physical condition allows it. Trippier is another of Simeone’s concerns. The English right-back has avoided efforts and blows that could endanger the muscles of the right leg. The intention of Simeone is to repeat the same eleven that defeated Osasuna except for the change of Giménez for Savic. Saúl, tested as a winger during the week, remains as a starter, due to the loss due to Lemar’s injury. Koke, Llorente and Carrasco, if Cholo finally bets on Saúl in the lane, they will form the center of the field. In attack, Correa will accompany Luis Suárez. With João Félix as the first replacement if the game looked bad in the second half.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.