One more day to go until the first “real” final of the season. While before the first leg at the Calderón everyone could say that there was still one more match to go, now things are getting serious.
No more excuses of non-irrigated pitches, one club not giving another one a place to train, or the usual transfer rumours of some key Atlético player that, coincidentally, always appear before we play Barcelona or Real Madrid. It’s just 90 more minutes of football to go.
‘Cholo’ Simeone said in the press conference today before leaving for Barcelona that he hopes both Neymar and Messi will be able to play, and hopefully would also find their way into Barça’s starting eleven.
While many people might consider that crazy, or even stupid, considering what world-class players they are, Atlético fans have gotten to know by now the confidence and the hunger for success that Cholo brings to the dressing room.
It is no exaggeration to say Simeone has re-formed a group of players into a real team — one that works together, helps, and fights for each other. Simeone’s Atleti believe that a real team can win the match, no matter who plays, and because of that, they are not afraid of the big name stars on other teams.
Recent history is proving them right.
When Atleti went to Bucharest, everyone said that we had only a miniscule chance of winning, that we had an easier passage to the final than did Athletic Bilbao. It ended 3-0.
When we went to Monaco to face Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup in my home country, no one was interested in it at all, it was just the Champions League winners playing against “Falcao and the rest of those red-and-white-striped guys” that won the Europa League, often touted as the most worthless cup in European football, that only losers play. The result was 4-1.
And when I was getting ready to fly to Madrid for the Cup final, everyone told me what a stupid waste of money it would be. After 120 minutes, in which I surely lost MANY more hours of my life, I was able to walk all the way from the Bernabéu to Neptuno.
I have to admit that, of course, individual skill will always be required and will have its impact, but it’s not the most important thing.
I’m not worried at all about the possibility of losing Wednesday’s match. Yes, we might not have put in our greatest performances at Camp Nou lately, but we also had not been victorious against our city rivals for almost 14 years…
There is no doubt that I will be proud of my team after the match tomorrow night, no matter how it ends, because I already know that they won’t give it away without a real fight. After playing and winning those three finals, our players know that nothing is impossible in football, and that there is no need to fear big names.
The first leg of the Super Cup showed that our players are able to subdue our opponents if they just stick to their style and their plan, and fight. They know they can do it, and I’m confident we will see them fight until the end.
I am not afraid of Barcelona, so bring them on!