By 90Min
April 26, 2018

Despite having direct rivals as Barcelona and Real Madrid - not just heavyweights in European football but La Liga too - Atletico Madrid have consistently punched above their weight, both domestically and on the continent.


In recent seasons, the famous side of red and white stripes have lifted the Europa League in 2012 and La Liga in 2014 - the latter coming against all the odds, as they clinched the title at Camp Nou of all places.

CURTO DE LA TORRE/GettyImages

Throw in for good measure reaching two of the last four Champions League finals, as well as lifting the UEFA Super Cup in 2012 and the Copa del Rey in 2013, during a spell of immense success.

Loyal to a side where he featured 98 times in a three year-spell, much of the credit belongs to one man - Diego Simeone. 

The 47-year-old achieved this without the bulging financial muscle of his direct competition - his side is dwarfed significantly by the money at the disposal of Real Madrid and Barcelona. The fervently passionate Argentine squeezes every last drop of potential from his squad by relentless tactical discipline and an intense focus on not conceding.

PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/GettyImages

At the time of writing, Los Rojiblancos are currently sitting pretty in second behind La Liga champions elect Barcelona, with an impressively low figure of 18 goals conceded after 34 rounds of fixtures. Compare that to rivals Real Madrid who double that with 36 on a much higher budget and you see why Simeone is revered around the world.

The biggest task this season for the Europa League hopefuls will be shackling the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, when they face Arsenal in the semi-final on Thursday. You can put your house on whichever team winning that match up going on to lift the trophy.

What this could be for Simeone is an audition - to prove he has what it takes to win another trophy on a small transfer budget, and put his name in the shop window as a leading candidate to take the soon-to-be vacant Arsenal position.

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While the former Inter player has recently distanced himself from the position, the opportunity to take on such a project in London could be too good to turn down. Testing his credentials against the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho may entice the feisty manager, who has reasonably exhausted all his possibilities for success in Madrid. 

The Gunners have been crying out for defensive stability for some time, with Wenger forever the purist looking to win through possession-football. In recent times this has been easily figured out, and with no plan B in place, Arsenal lack any tactical cohesion.

In Madrid, Simeone has instilled in his side a never-say-die attitude, a ridiculously high work-rate and 100% commitment from his players, which has been severely lacking for a long time at the Emirates. 

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When Atletico Madrid visit London during the first leg of the semi-final, you'll see two teams with completely different styles, managers at different stages of their careers but both with success at the top-level. The difference is that Simeone will do anything for a win, and would bring an intensity not seen in the Arsenal dugout for some time.

While the Gunners shifted their style of play from 'boring boring' Arsenal in 1996 - following Wenger's appointment - to a brand of football never seen before in the Premier League, once the famous English backline retired, the Arsenal boss forgot the importance of building a title-winning side on defensive responsibilities.

Returning to the Champions League and challenging for the Premier League title should be high on the list of priorities when the Gunners appoint a new manager. Arsenal needs to go back to basics and of all the options out there, Simeone could be the remedy to heal this wounded giant. 

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