24 years, 11 months, and 28 days. Almost a quarter of a century has passed since the last time the Atlético de Madrid he won the honorary title of winter champion by finishing the first lap in first position. Today it is three days ahead. In 1996, he won the League and Cup ‘Doublet’.
The victory obtained against Sevilla (2-0) this Tuesday at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium allows the rojiblanco team to add 41 points, four more than their chaser, the Real Madrid (37), who has only one game left to close the first round, so even winning would not take away that condition.
A title, although symbolic, that Atlético obtains with three fewer games than necessary, which further raises the merits of the team led by the Argentine Diego Pablo Simeone, which has only conceded two draws (Huesca and Villarreal) and one defeat (precisely against Real Madrid) in sixteen days.
Not even in the season of Atlético's last league title, that of the 2013-14 season, did the rojiblancos win this vitola, since at the end of the first round of that campaign they were second tied at 50 points with the Barcelona, but with more goals in favor and scoring difference for the Catalans, with whom they drew 0-0 at Vicente Calderón at the conclusion of the first half of the championship and drew 1-1 at the Camp Nou at the end of the tournament, tables that gave the title to those of Simeone.
HOh, we have to go back to January 13, 1996 to find Atlético as winter champion, on matchday 21 of that 42-match league -because it had 22 teams-, in which it was the authoritarian leader of the tournament with 49 goals, seven more than the surprising Compostela who was then second, with 42 units.
It is precisely Simeone the common link between these two groups, that of 25 years ago and that of today. The ‘Cholo’, at that time the lung of the rojiblanco midfield and scorer -he scored 12 goals that season, second top scorer after the Bulgarian Lubo Penev, who made 16-, marked the tie of Atlético (1-1) in Carlos Belmonte against Albacete in the match that closed that first round, and repeated on the final day against the same rival (2-0).
Today, the Argentine is commander-in-chief of the rojiblanca ship, he drives a team in which this season he has transformed the hitherto untouchable 4-4-2 scheme in the previous eight years into a versatile 5-3-2 depending on the players, and he knew how to lead his team to victory against a competitive Sevilla after the setback of the elimination cup against a Segunda B in Cornellá (1-0).
On the freezing night of the Wanda Metropolitano, with subzero temperatures in the cold wave that followed the heavy snowfall that fell over much of the center of the Iberian Peninsula over the weekend, and with the grass in perfect condition despite the 60 centimeters of snow that came to have on him, some of the keys erected by the 'Cholo' coach shone to achieve what he had achieved before as a footballer: finish the first round first.
The first was the selection of footballers: decided to leave the Portuguese Joao Félix on the bench, who is by far the most talented footballer on his squad, to give the Argentine minutes Angel Correa, who restored his confidence with a goal in the 17th minute with which the rojiblancos handled the match more solidly.
It is often cited as an example of the ability to Simeone to mold players to Marcos Llorente, from defensive pivot to inside arriving, but belt It is one of the creations of 'Cholo'More refined. Arrived as a forward, reconverted to interior or winger despite his own preferences, he has gone from being a scorer to an assistant: he has 8 passes on goal this season, and today was his second goal, a left-footed shot at the turn of the pass. of English Kieran trippier, back after the precautionary suspension of his sanction.
It was the goal of belt, a volley from the Uruguayan Luis Suarez that the Moroccan goalkeeper of Sevilla cleared with a miraculous foot Bond… And little else, because the winter champion held on to his defensive strength with five and sometimes up to six defenders, and waited. Until the goal of Saúl Ñíguez in the second part. A psychological goal for the Elche, who is experiencing a bad time.
Atlético won, extended the streak without losing against Sevilla to six games and that of the Sevilla coach Julen lopetegui five games without beating the rojiblanco team (three draws and two defeats between Real Madrid and Sevilla). And above all, he is the winter champion again, 25 years later.