MADRID – A lot of things happened in Wanda Metropolitano in the last 10 or 20 minutes, which seemed to go beyond the last pile, until they were about to make another self-reliant bonus game, the third part of a two-part drama.
There was a haircut. There were so many things to waste time on. Panali complete conflict, many players and team members all flock to the corner of the court to express their views. There was an abundance of yellow cards, and a bright, angry red. There was Diego Simeone, who led his band, urging the stadium to leave, screaming and shouting until the last breath.
What was missing, the only thing missing, was real football. There was a bright, obvious, Atlético Madrid move forward, looking for a goal that could thwart Manchester City’s rejection and take the game into extra time, extending their Champions League presence for 30 minutes or, perhaps, several weeks. Most of the time, though, the last minute was learning not to play soccer.
This is a big part of what Atlético Madrid has to offer. Simeone has spent ten years forming a team in his image, a team that plays, as he did, with “a knife between his teeth.”
Atlético should, of course, be a public champion among the elite of Europe, a way to counteract the overwhelming culture of coercion and ownership. It doesn’t matter, after all, he has the wealth of his overweening neighbor, Real Madrid, never to be swayed by either Manchester City or Paris St.-Germain, and yet they refuse to wilt, losing inevitably financially.
This is strong evidence of Simeone’s work, then, and the excellent performance of his training, that his team is able to participate in the well-known Champions League: a part of the critics, critics and the elite, made and built to impress the beauty and life from the game, happy to disrupt any existing culture in the pursuit of victory, and to despise the meeting, its opponents and the game-playing morality.
And yet, in the fire of all fury, it was not only Atlético who realized that the finish line was hung not on skill and skill but on grit and grizzle, in their willingness to do whatever they wanted.
No team is more concerned with beauty than Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. For many years, he has come to stand as a symbol of the high moral standards of football, in opposition to his taste, his great respect. Guardiola means leadership and style, and he put it all in the team he created.
This was not a good thing, however, which allowed his team to flee Madrid unscathed, his place in the Champions League semifinals with the defending Real Madrid, their three-time European expulsion. City did not defeat Atlético by overcoming its black talents. It defeated Atlético on loan.
Some of them, at least. As he did, Guardiola’s team, once again, no longer seemed interested in playing football. It played, instead, for a while. Every throw seems to take years, as well as every whip and every goal. No injuries were caused; even the smallest explosion made it possible for a person to receive long-term treatment. The broken balls were hit slowly in the line, to prevent the Atlético players from reaching. There was nothing that was too small to be offended.
This should not be construed as a protest against Manchester City; away from that. In many cases, it is so easy to be impressed by Guardiola’s side of the story that his appearance, his courage, is overlooked. His reputation in the Premier League, in particular, in recent years has been built on self-defense as a threat. The city will not want and will not doubt; it goes on, without a doubt, absolute in its conviction that it will be well established in the end.
As Metropolitano – a handsome, modern court built by Simeone’s success – somehow entered Vicente Calderón, Atlético’s old collapsed, threatening, naked home, what passed City was not its magic but its stability. It contains as much of Guardiola’s recipes as anything else.
And even then, in this case, it should not be regarded as Atlético’s criticism. “The most important thing is to win,” Simeone said after the game, when the players met again on the road. “It doesn’t matter how you do it.”
Although Guardiola conceded that Atlético were close to winning, that if they had won, they would have had more chances. “They had the potential to win,” he said. “We should have lived that way. We had to suffer. We were in a lot of trouble. ” One night, in another country, he seemed to say, everything would be very different.
That Simeone’s team managed to run City very close, was not difficult, but for a reason. As Atlético did what it did, in the last few minutes, when the outrage outside the Metropolitano concrete slope banks began to build up, so did the noise inside. The crowd responded that their group was shouting and crying, causing the people to become more and more complacent, and the move was sloppy. Atlético is not that fun. That’s the way it is because it works.
“He knows how to do better than any other team in the world,” Guardiola said. There is no, anywhere, no more football than Atlético Madrid.
Guardiola looked happy, in a way. He knows that there are times when it is important, which is important. He knows his team sometimes has to be like Atlético Madrid if they come back here and celebrate again in a few weeks, if they have to climb to the peak of a never-before-seen, say. Champions League.