Diego Simeone’s reign as Atletico Madrid manager has been successful to say the least so far. Winning the Europa League in his first season with a team that was mentally struggling under Quique Flores in 2011.
Simeone blasted into the job with his hands on attitude off the pitch and cheerleader approach on the touchline. The Argentine has got each and every member of his team to adopt the same mentality as himself.
The team works as a whole in terms of ferocious pressing when off the ball and belief in each other when they are on it. If there was ever an example of the importance of mentality in football, this Atletico Madrid side under Simeone are very much that.
Simeone shone further in his second season bringing the team back to the heights of European football and a historic Copa Del Rey final victory against rivals Real Madrid. This team have adopted a winning mentality and have taken this even further on Wednesday night, knocking out Barcelona to enter their first Champions League semi-final since 1974.
Not to mention Atletico still sit on top of a very heated title race in La Liga. Everyone has expected them to fall off the bandwagon however they keep delivering with their consistent performances.
Atletico made Barcelona look below average on the night limiting the former Champions League winners to half chances and not allowing them to breath on the ball. Atletico created a host of chances themselves rattling the woodwork twice through former Barcelona man David Villa.
Many would say the rise of Diego Costa has helped greatly towards the success of this Atletico side this season, which is 100% true. However on Wednesday night the same winning mentality was present despite the absence of Arda Turan and Costa.
It seems it does not matter the individuals that go out to play for Simeone, as they are all willing to put in the hard work for the aggressive pressing machine that Atletico have become.
The individuals that Simeone has adopted in this Atletico side are not natural athletes by a long stretch. However each and every one of them have become a new animal under the Argentine’s management.
Players like Turan were often branded as lazy in his time playing for Galatasaray. He was seen as a player who was capable of special creative moments without necessarily being aware of defensive duties.
Simeone has taken a player like this and made him one of the hardest working wide men in Europe. This is the same work he has done throughout the team with Koke, Gabi and Costa all benefiting from his style.
Atletico's next task in the Champions League is to overcome Chelsea to get to the final. It will be a tactical battle of two very capable modern managers as Simeone will prepare for Mourinho’s visit.
The hard work of this team is a testament to the team and the manager. This team have a hunger to win things and if they manage to secure at least one of the Champions League or La Liga titles then there is no doubt that Simeone will be a favourite for the Manager of the Year honour.
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