For exactly twenty minutes, Atlético de Madrid gave up the lead and almost all his options to win the league championship. 1,200 seconds elapsed since Nacho Fernández’s goal in San Mamés, which brought the trophy closer to the Chamartín showcases, and the athletic catharsis derived from Luis Suárez’s goal, the 2-1 against Osasuna and which returned the candidacy and favoritism to the title to the squad of the Canillejas neighborhood. From the funeral home to the ‘joie de vivre’ in one breath. Football in its purest form.
It is not an anomalous circumstance for Simeone and his boys in this course, perched up and down since the beginning of the year. The rojiblancos, after completing a practically immaculate first round, bled points in winter and early spring to feed Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla, their pursuers. Merengues and culés even had in their hands snatch their perennial leadership, but they missed the shot at the moment of truth.
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Atlético de Madrid thus reaches the last day grabbing a cup handle, a situation that the mattress fans would have signed when the season was still crawling. They depend on themselves. Success or failure in ninety minutes and on the banks of the Pisuerga, with a Valladolid that needs a three-cushion carom to stay in the First Division. More incentives, impossible.
With Barcelona and Seville disengaged from the fight for their last slips, the culés especially incomprehensible, the battle for league regularity will be a fight between Atlético and Real Madrid. Two bad neighbors who in recent years have crossed the stairs more than they would have liked.
So far in the 21st century, the two greats of the capital have fought for six titles directly, with a balance of three trophies for each. The rojiblancos have signed up for the Copa del Rey final (2013), the Spanish Super Cup (2014) and the European Super Cup (2018). Despite the balance in competitions won, the balance is on the Madrid side for the entity of the same, especially the 2014 and 2016 Champions League. Lisbon and Milan continue to sting in the athletic imaginary. The 2020 Spanish Super Cup also found accommodation in Concha Espina. Winning the League against your sports nemesis would be a great way to mitigate painful memories..
The players, coaching staff and fans were left without a voice singing Luis Suárez’s 2-1, in another agonizing victory for the colchoneros. The last two days have been an altered electrocardiogram for the team. Against Real Sociedad he ended up looking at the timer after winning peacefully 2-0 and forgiving numerous occasions to sentence. And in front of Osasuna, the battered red-and-white heart was not enough to channel so much tension and emotions. Saturday, the definitive ‘holter’.
Atlético de Madrid will reach the ‘final’ of José Zorrilla tanned and exhibiting the tenacity and punch of the first round of the competition. Although gasoline is running low, the footballers have reached the decisive stage on a more than remarkable physical level.
Three proper names stand out above the rest: Marcos Llorente, Ángel Correa and Yannick Carrasco. The Belgian, especially, is in his prime since he returned from his ‘Erasmus’ in China. He performs as a lane, as a winger and, if Cholo asked him, even as a central defender. In the last few days he has accumulated four goals and five assists and, regardless of his figures, the feeling on the pitch that he is a mental ladder above the rest of the players.