Dressed in all black, Diego Simeone resembles the lead singer of a Gothic rock band. A band which reverberates only the tune of football, a tune worshipped by football hipsters all around the globe.
True to the above description, Simeone has caught the attention of everyone by transforming Atletico Madrid from a mid-table struggler to Champions League contender. Since he took over, Atlético has changed, constantly improving and bettering itself.
On Wednesday, 25th of February, the Argentine will be leading his players out into the Bay-Arena, home of Bayer Leverkusen, the club that has been making some noise in the Bundesliga.
The manager of Bayer Leverkusen, Roger Schmidt, has developed his side with the motif “ROBOT” in his mind, like a passionate mechanical engineer, which he is.
Just like his previous team Red Bull Salzburg, Bayer Leverkusen is based on the principle of heavy pressing. Bayer’s playing style is a mess. At least that is how it looks – press, win, pass vertically, shoot and repeat again. But when you take a closer look, it is a master plan by Schmidt.
Yes, on Wednesday night, two different characters will face each other. It will undoubtedly be a tough battle and I won’t be surprised if Leverkusen, who given their recent history, as the minnows, manage to upset Atlético Madrid. Admit it, we all love it when someone gives life to the story of David and Goliath.
Simeone and Schmidt may be two contrasting personalities, but their ideologies are the same – press to win. While Atlético keeps its defence tight and presses in the midfield region, Leverkusen players press higher up the pitch to win the ball as quickly as possible. One can say that in Leverkusen, Simeone will meet his ideological twin. It is as if Simeone is travelling back in time to play against his less-experienced self.
From a neutral point of view, no matter which team wins, there will be one winner – football. The tactical battle between the two geniuses could hold the key to change the future of the game and also the way we perceive it, like many matches in the past have.
Nachiketh is an Atlético fan from India, and prefers to look at the tactical side of Atleti’s game. You can find him over on Twitter as @NachikethRamesh