"This defeat is the best thing that could happen," said Diego Simeone, according to AS (via Football Espana). The Argentine had just seen his team beaten by Levante, but the draws from Barcelona and Real Madrid on the weekend means the championship is still in their own hands.
"We expect three weeks with very high intensity and emotion. It is the ideal time for men, for players. We expect three fantastic weeks."
At the end of those three weeks, Simeone's team could win a unique double, or, equally, they could end the campaign without a trophy.
Nothing is guaranteed in this league, but you get the impression they have been given a second chance.
The two-horse title race of the previous years led to various criticism that La Liga was just another Scotland.
It was a bit unfair given how Barcelona and Real Madrid have been two of the best teams in Europe, if not the best. Glasgow Rangers' financial problems have also destroyed that analogy.
There was still essentially another league. The Clasico pairing and another for the other 18 teams.
Unai Emery's Valencia team would continually finish third. It was a fantastic achievement, and other than the Valencia supporters, no one was expecting them to make a title challenge.
For a team that was heavily in debt, could we really ask for them to compete with two of the world's richest clubs?
Emery is now the Sevilla coach, but when he was still at the Mestalla, I spoke to Rafael Benitez about the situation. "He is doing well in La Liga with Valencia given the difference in that Madrid and Barcelona have the greater resources, so in that respect, he is achieving great success," explained the Napoli manager, via LaLigaUK.
Benitez was the last coach to win the league outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid. That was when he was in charge of Los Che, which was 10 years ago.
Atletico are doing that, though, and have joined the other two. It's not money that has been the driving force either—hard work, determination, psychology and tactical nous have all played their part.
It would reinvigorate the league as a whole if Atleti were to take the trophy back to the Vicente Calderon. When everything becomes a little too predictable, it risks becoming boring.
The interest in whether they could maintain their power would be huge, whilst Barcelona and Real Madrid would be forced to up their game once more.
It will attract new fans to the league; those that don't watch La Liga on a regular basis have been pleasantly surprised by the emergence of Los Rojiblancos.
There were certainly some neutrals that were growing tired of the predictive nature of the competition. It's a reason to market the league as a collective product rather than 18 Davids and two Goliaths.
Everyone loves a good underdog story. The team that costs less than one player from the opposition are fighting against the odds to claim something that is seemingly impossible.
The inevitable sales over the next few years will eventually take their toll on the squad and their ability to compete. Furthermore, Simeone's methods might not work over a sustained period, and he might seek a fresh challenge.
For now, we should just enjoy this historical achievement from Atletico Madrid and celebrate them giving new life to the world of Spanish football.
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