For the high standards set by Diego Simeone so far at Atlético, December was a fairly up and down month. Most of the news was dominated by the fallout from violence after the Deportivo game at the end of the previous month and Frente Atlético’s ban.
On the pitch, we managed 3 wins, 2 draws and a defeat from 6 games, and qualified as Group A winners in the Champions League to set up a last 16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen.
Perhaps most notably though, we saw the birth of a new star – a 19 year-old from Uruguay by the name of José Maria Giménez, who scoops our award for best player over the last calendar month.
The former Danubio man had seen very limited playing time for Atleti up until the last couple of months, but has always been regarded as a prestigious talent and impressed for Uruguay at last summer’s World Cup.
However, since Miranda’s injury back in the November international break, he has made the place alongside compatriot Diego Godín his own with a string of dominant performances, and earned speculative interest from some of Europe’s leading clubs.
On December 6th, he scored his first goal in red and white against Elche, opening the scoring with a fantastic driven effort from the edge of the box in a 2-0 win. He had already been twice denied in previous matches by the linesman’s flag, and possesses a real threat in the opposition box.
The highlight of his month came three days later though, as he and Godín put in a stellar defensive performance in Turin to secure a 0-0 draw with Juventus and our passage into the next round as group winners.
Miranda returned from injury for the next match – the home loss to Villarreal – but the Uruguayan soon forced his way back in, starring in our 4-1 win at Athletic that drew a fantastic year for Atleti to a close.
The youngster also had reason to celebrate off the pitch, as his first son Lautaro was born just before Christmas.
Whether he will keep his place in the first team is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure and that is that Giménez is going right to the top. Let’s hope the club move fast and tie him down before the big money inevitably comes in from elsewhere.
Do you agree with our choice? How impressed have you been with Giménez?