As we stumble towards the end of another fascinating La Liga season, there’s the inescapable notion that Diego Simeone might just have taken Atletico Madrid as far as he can.

Though the Rojiblancos sit happily in second place and have been Barcelona’s only real challengers for the title throughout the 2018/19 campaign, Atleti have fallen short again when it matters.

Close, but no cigar and all that.

There is still much to admire about a Simeone side, of course. The way in which these battle-hardened troops give everything for their coach in every single game is laudable and teams elsewhere (Manchester United, we’re looking at you) could learn an awful lot.

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 15: Antoine Greizmann of Atletico de Madrid celebrates with teammates and Manager, Diego Simeone of Atletico de Madrid after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between Atletico Madrid and Levante at Wanda Metropolitano stadium on April 15, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

However, when the dust settles, this will be another season where no silverware is on the table, save for a UEFA Super Cup at the very beginning of the campaign.

Indeed, the performance on that night, which ended with a comfortable 4-2 victory over rivals Real Madrid, potentially hinted at what was to come from this team… and yet Atleti have only produced the same in short bursts.

Where once opponents had to go through absolute hell across the ninety minutes to get something out of any game against them, now that edge appears to have dissipated.

Juventus knew it even when they’d lost 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League encounter.

Twenty-three goals conceded is the best defensive record in the Spanish top flight by a distance, which tells us that, perhaps, Atleti’s issues are up front.

Alvaro Morata has been a sound enough addition and Antoine Griezmann has been ok if not fantastic… but Diego Costa has been something of a liability for the most part and he could be heading a mass exodus in the summer.

There’s continued speculation about the striker’s future with a move to China known to appeal. Griezmann has, apparently, also let it be known that he thinks he made a mistake in not signing for Barcelona last summer.

Lucas Hernandez has already signed for Bayern Munich and captain, Diego Godin, has purportedly agreed to sign a two-year deal with Inter.

If that weren’t enough to send shivers through the spines of the Rojiblanco faithful, there’s a danger of Manchester City paying Saul Niguez’s buyout clause and Barcelona buying Filipe Luis as back-up for Jordi Alba.

The backbone of a rock-solid Simeone squad is, therefore, on the verge of collapse, those who brought such intensity on the move.

Jan Oblak renewing until 2023 will be of little comfort if the club can’t hold onto their other headline acts, and it’s hard to imagine any new squad iteration will come close to matching their predecessors.

Perennially coming second-best isn’t something that will appeal to Simeone or the supporters.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

Join the discussion