Virtually handed a world-class scorer by considered one of its high rivals, Atletico Madrid rode the objectives of Luis Suarez burning to show his former workforce improper and the aggressive all-for-one spirit preached by Diego Simeone to the Spanish league title.
This is how Atletico beat out Barcelona — Suarez’s former workforce — and crosstown rival Actual Madrid for its first Liga crown in seven years:
An ideal reward
With Barcelona sunk in mounting debt and coming off a season and not using a title, the membership in September informed Suarez — its third all-time main scorer no much less — that he wanted to discover a new house.
After a transfer to Italy fell by, Barcelona shocked its followers by promoting Suarez on a budget to Atletico to shed his wage. The switch price that with add-ons might solely attain 6 million euros ($7 million US) was a ludicrously small sum for a participant who had netted 21 objectives for Barcelona within the earlier season.
The deal proved to be a boon for Simeone. Lastly, he had a ruthless finisher in Suarez who, at age 34, has misplaced quickness however maintains his killer intuition when the ball reaches him wherever close to the online. The Uruguay striker scored 21 objectives for his new membership and gave it an intimidating level of assault that additionally opened up house for his teammates.
That included winners by Suarez in each of Atletico’s ultimate two matches of the season the place it was trailing. Suarez’s 88th-minute strike accomplished a 2-1 comeback win over Osasuna within the second-to-last spherical to maintain Atletico in entrance of Actual Madrid. And none was larger than his second-half aim to finish the come-from-behind victory in opposition to Valladolid.
Tears of pleasure for <a href=”https://twitter.com/LuisSuarez9?ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>@LuisSuarez9</a>! 🥲<br><br>His 21 objectives helped earn the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LaLigaSantander?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#LaLigaSantander</a> title for <a href=”https://twitter.com/atletienglish?ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>@atletienglish</a>… ❤️🏆🤍 <a href=”https://t.co/X2WVDvlQqz”>pic.twitter.com/X2WVDvlQqz</a>
After the 2-1 win at Valladolid, Suarez was overcome by an outpouring of emotion that introduced collectively the enjoyment of victory and the satisfaction of getting made Barcelona remorse his exit. After embracing his teammates and coaches, Suarez sat on the turf and made a video name, apparently to his spouse and kids, the place he brazenly wept.
“This has been a tough season for the state of affairs I needed to undergo, beginning the season the best way it did, being disrespected [by Barcelona] and having Atletico open its doorways to me,” Suarez stated, talking by his tears after the ultimate whistle. “I’ll at all times be grateful to this nice membership for that. I’ve been in soccer for a few years and I feel this has been probably the most troublesome 12 months for me.”
F A M I L Y ❤️🤍 <a href=”https://t.co/yBTCBtWbS8″>pic.twitter.com/yBTCBtWbS8</a>
Energy of Simeone
Simeone’s endurance, his skill to proceed to interact his gamers and preserve their religion intact after nearly a decade in command of the membership, is what separates the Argentine from the overwhelming majority of his teaching brethren.
Since taking on the membership in January 2012, he has by no means wavered from his mantra of going ahead “sport by sport,” a message that by no means lets his gamers develop complacent or lose their concentrate on the match at hand. Nor has Simeone ever been shamed by rivals who criticize his no frills, defense-first taking part in model.
HE’S DONE IT AGAIN! 🏆<br><br>🔴⚪️ <a href=”https://twitter.com/atletienglish?ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>@atletienglish</a>’s champions carry <a href=”https://twitter.com/Simeone?ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>@Simeone</a> aloft on the Estadio Jose Zorrilla! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LaLigaSantander?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#LaLigaSantander</a> <a href=”https://t.co/QwbVzrcrhi”>pic.twitter.com/QwbVzrcrhi</a>
However that doesn’t imply that Simeone is totally set in his methods. After years of preferring a 4-4-2 formation, Simeone deployed a 3-5-2 this season to make use of a three-man backline. The centerback trio of Stefan Savic, Filipe Augusto and Mario Hermoso allowed wing backs Renan Lodi and Kieran Trippier push ahead and assist Koke Resureccion’s midfield.
Zinedine Zidane and Ronald Koeman additionally used a three-man protection at Actual Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. The distinction was that Atletico did so whereas not conceding extra probabilities. And when attackers did get free, there was Jan Oblak to cease them. The Slovenia goalkeeper anchored a protection that allowed a league-low 25 objectives in 38 video games.
A critical taskmaster day in, day trip, Simeone burst into laughter after the ultimate whistle on Saturday and didn’t lose his big grin afterward. He embraced his household earlier than leaping onto the workforce bus as his gamers celebrated to Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”
Atletico had an amazing begin to the season, equaling a membership document within the opening half of the season — the primary 19 rounds — with 50 factors. That allowed the red-and-whites to open up double-digit leads over each Actual Madrid and Barcelona. Then got here the letdown, and a bonus that appeared insurmountable rapidly dwindled to simply two factors. Atletico dug in and began successful once more, whereas its rivals slipped of their chase. Atletico’s 0-0 draw at Camp Nou earlier this month sunk Barcelona’s probabilities of overtaking them on the wire.
Impact of function gamers
This was speculated to be Joao Felix’s 12 months to shine, offering youth and playmaking alongside Suarez’s expertise. The 21-year-old Portugal ahead, nevertheless, didn’t sustain his promising begin to the marketing campaign and fell out of Simeone’s beginning 11.
Simeone turned to the much less flashy however more practical Marcos Llorente, Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco to assist get the objectives.
Following his breakout final season when he scored twice in Anfield to assist remove Liverpool from the Champions League, Llorente offered Simeone with a flexible participant who might function as a ahead, a midfielder and a wing again. He chipped in with 12 objectives. Correa added 9 objectives, together with the equalizer in opposition to Valladolid. And when Atletico was struggling, Carrasco, a speedy left-side winger, netted 4 objectives and made 4 assists down the stretch.
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