It’s not going well for Atletico Madrid this season, and has been made even worse by the fact that, according to the league table anyway, they’re not even the second-best team in Madrid this season.
That honour goes to Getafe, an unfenced ragtag bunch whose win over Athletic Bilbao at the weekend put them in third place, behind only Real Madrid and Barcelona.
On this week’s European edition of the Totally Football Show, Alvaro Romeo told us how they have become so good.
“They beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0, with a team that Atletico Madrid was, and Bilbao wants to be: strong defensively, and try to make the most of the few opportunities they create.
“Against Bilbao in the first-half, if you took a stopwatch and timed when the ball was in play, they would play for only 13 or 14 minutes, because they stop the game all the time. Every time the other team has the ball, they will do plenty of tactical fouls – to the point where they normally get seven or eight yellow cards, on average, per game.
“Against Bilbao they had 39% possession, made 19 fouls and five yellow cards: I’m not criticising this, I’m saying this is a manager who is maximising his means, and that is something remarkable.
“They have a style, and they have implemented it with many rejects that were unwanted by other teams. They have a president, Angel Torres, who has worked a lot in the second and third tier, and knows many players in those leagues, and brings the best of them to the team.
“That, combined with a manager like Jose Bordalas – who has never denied that he is there to get a better job in the future – it makes a hell of a cocktail.”
They qualified for the Europa League last season – they face Ajax in the last 32 in a couple of weeks – but this time they could easily go one step better.
“Last season they finished fifth, and I think there’s a chance for them to finish fourth, because Sevilla aren’t convincing, neither are Atletico, Real Sociedad are beautiful to watch but are inconsistent, so there is a place up for grabs.”
Perhaps their success has something to do with a manager who has undergone a makeover in recent times.
“Bordalas’s physical transformation in recent years is funny to watch: he was a fat man without a beard, and now he has a goatee and is very thin. The face is so different: he looks like someone running away from justice.”
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