A worthy rival for a decent derby

Nick Lawley looks at whether we've outgrown our status of the under-dog

The sign that Real Madrid fans held aloft in the 4-1 win over Atleti in 2011

The sign that Real Madrid fans held aloft in the 4-1 win over Atleti in 2011

We have achieved what a lot of Atlético fans could only dream of before that 2013 Copa Del Rey Final. We are feared by Real. Really feared.  Which makes one wonder are Real the new ‘noisy neighbours’?

OK, OK, we hear you. The obvious answer is no, and that is fine. After all, we are the humble, under-dog team and that suits us just fine, thank you very much. But, humour me and let’s look at some points.

Seeking a worthy rival

In 2011 the Real fans created a mosaic which created an ‘advert’ seeking “a worthy rival for a decent derby”, that night we lost 4-1. Their point was made. But are they eating their words now? Real have more money, more history, more social media followers, more media time, more, more, more… But then, like in all good stories, came our knight in shining armour…

Don Diego Pablo ‘Cholo’ Simeone

Since Simeone joined Atlético there have been 19 derbies. Real have won seven, five have been draws, and Atlético have been victorious on 7 occasions. That is, frankly, unheard of pre-Cholo. Remember though that it didn’t come straight away for Simeone.  In his first derby as manager we were thrashed “old style” 4-1 in the Calderon… Eventually in May 2013, and through the grace of Miranda’s forehead our fortunes changed. Since then we have only lost 3 times, returned the thrashing, unleashed Fernando Torres on them, beaten them in the Spanish Super Cup, and won the league more recently than them.

Home away from home?

“We take it naturally, the possibility of winning here. Football is marvellous and that is what allows these sort of situations. It is difficult to express the feelings that my players feel when they come to play here”, Simeone told the press following last Saturday’s victory. Atlético have beaten Real three times at the Bernabeu in La Liga , a record, add to that our victory in the Copa Del Rey and you have four wins in the Bernabeu.  Previous to Miranda’s goal it took us 28 years to accumulate as many wins away from home.

Be careful what you wish for…

Well they certainly got what they wished for. Atlético are very much the rival of old. This Monday every Rojiblanco walked in to school/office with that quiet smile which we are starting to get used to.

Madrid fans will always seek to throw the Champions League Final in our faces, but if we can just take a second and appreciate that Lisbon didn’t undo what started off Miranda’s forehead, we will continue to smile.

  • Usavicente Calderon

    It is nice to know that a jealous acting Real fan has to go back 2 years to try an win the argument. But for La Liga 2015-2016, we are the derby champs. Glad to see team play win over individuals. And please don’t tell me that Atleti’s style is boring. When you are winning, it is never boring. I am fine that our record is tied with Real over the tenure of Simeone. It makes these derby games more exciting.

  • Koke

    We are finally getting the recognition we deserve, VERY slowly but surely. I really think we are a couple signings or a couple tactical tweaks away from exploding into a European superpower and one of the best 3 clubs in the world. Our back five is the best defensive unit in the world and our attack and midfield have a great combination of strength, finesse, and ballsiness. If Simeone decides to be more bold offensively and our players find scoring form going forward, I have no doubt that we can thrash most teams on a good day and that the Champions League could be a very real ambition in the next 4 seasons or so. Anyway, I really think Real Madrid is overrated. Yes, they are having a bad season, but I also don’t think they will do much better in the next couple seasons either. Too much ego, too little continuity, all their important players are aging (Ramos, Ronaldo, Modric, Pepe, etc) and the transfer ban if it comes would really hurt them much more than it would hurt us.

  • sarnobat

    Beautifully written