MANCHESTER, England – Later, tired, cold, and wet, Éderson decided to go for a walk. The Manchester City goalkeeper spent 20 minutes in charge of the shooting area. He checked all four corners if there was an accident. He found nothing. He was watching, blinking, from a distance, looking at the horizon to see some danger. None of that, though.
And so, to no avail, he just wandered around. He was alone. There was no one else in the half of his field. The Manchester City center-back, the players he used as his bodyguards, had settled in the Atlético Madrid area, in areas often occupied by elfin players.
As he approached the middle line, Éderson slowed down a bit. He was like a man who travels without thinking about where he is going: He did not really know what he wanted to do when he got there. He hit his heels. He stretched out and touched his toes. He just sat there for a few seconds, enjoying what it was like to be a football player, then slowly returned, returning to where he was alone.
Ennui of Brazil could not – as is always the case at home and in Europe – be followed by Manchester City’s greater success than its opposition, to its economic power, to its great power. Or, on the contrary, it cannot be simply adhered to. At some point, Éderson got tired because Atlético Madrid was content to get tired.
Perhaps the best demonstration of how Diego Simeone, Atlético coach, wanted to approach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday came his first second. Manchester City started, and at the same time, every Atlético player seemed to be backwards, with everyone moving a little to his half.
Or maybe it was a short, short and accidental moment when the suspect Geoffrey Kondogbia exploded in the center of City, looking up, seeing nothing in front of him except for a few blue and green jerseys. His companions did not tremble. They were all locked in their holding system, under the order to stop.
This is what Simeon wants, of course. The Argentina are in many ways polar against Pep Guardiola, his City teammate. That is a cliché, now, a kind of glib judgment that sounds very simple, but it is real.
Guardiola’s vision for the ball took a turn for the worse. Simeone’s focuses more on the sharpness of the laser, in finding ways to melt it. Guardiola has made his story by making things. Simeone did his best to make sure he didn’t.
Guardiola has previously stated that his good intentions would include any player touching the ball, perhaps several times, in the presence of another – no matter who he is – to knock him down until an unprotected goal.
On Tuesday, Simeone seems to be trying something different: chasing crazy dreams in which all the games went by without his players doing something like catching a ball, he was overwhelmed by the important task of blocking passing routes. and closing the invading sides.
This style, when applied, is hard to love but easy to envy. And it worked, and it worked wonderfully, for a while. That courage, that determination, the disobedience has become the cornerstone of modern-day Atlético in Europe, a major achievement that has turned the unsettled into a real European power: two Spanish and Europa League winners, two Champions League winners, now well-preserved. in its spectacular and breathless street.
And it is about to work again, against Guardiola’s most recent striker, a club that has never been involved in the Premier League, the team that should be the best in the world. Atlético thrashed Manchester City in the first half, as well as in the second major, too, as the Simeone vintage show that made Atlético a footballing champion, his last resort to the coming wind. about compression and possession.
Almost all are important, however. Not only because City chose the path, Phil Foden passed through many Atlético teams, creating enough space for Kevin de Bruyne to win the game. That will not stop Simeon for no reason. He, in secret, would be happy to escape from the Etihad with his side still in its infancy.
No, the most important thing is what happened on the other side. There is one defense that Atlético, this Atlético, does not know well, one part of the strategy he has chosen that continues to fail: invasion.
Excellent self-defense activities also include risk periods, in the aftermath. It is during this time, the rare occurrence on the surface, when overwork has the potential for recovery, rehabilitation, and reorganization. And it is in that moment, doubt is instilled in the minds of opponents, that even a good team like Manchester City begins to doubt itself, starting to doubt whether it should play more players. forward.
Simeone’s excellent Atlético teams had the following: Antoine Griezmann’s run, autumnal David Villa’s trick, Diego Costa’s taurine bellicosity. The Atlético team does not. He did not fall short in the first round. It had one, perhaps, second, though there is a very good chance of meaning as a cross.
That, in the end, is the flaw in the system, the problem of finding contentment in vain. The defense did not work, no, and now Atlético must win in Madrid next week, and to do so they must open up opportunities, not close. It must create, not destroy. Simeone seemed happy because Éderson was tired. He was not as happy as Guardiola.