The 17th of May is a Date engraved on fire in red and white history. That Copa del Rey won at the Bernabéu, 2013, Koke depositing the Atleti flag in the center of the field, it had been 14 years since Madrid had been beaten. That League, a year later, won against Barça, at the Camp Nou, Godín’s header. Cristiano’s Madrid and Messi’s Barça. But on May 22 also. Simeone’s second League as Atletico coach. Sunday will be a year. 365 days of that afternoon in Valladolid. empty stadiums, The COVID League, the celebration in the parking lot. The outbreak. And many names that today have faded.
Because there was a consensus around the next Atlético, the one that ends the year in Anoeta on Sunday, against Real Sociedad, at stake “only” being third or fourth. And that “only” weighs. Because the Champions already have it. But it sounds little when a champion template He joined footballers like De Paul, Cunha and Griezmann. A template in which the heroes of the previous League, from whom everything was also expected, have faded. Or disappeared. And there were many. Especially in the first round. And beyond the usual ones (Oblak, Savic, Correa…), whose level has been lower, but they have been there, the focus is on players who have not been. In a literal way (Trippier). And in a figurative way: Llorente, Lemar and Suárez.
“Thank you Lucho for making us champions,” shouted the southern bottom of the Metropolitano at Atlético-Sevilla on Sunday. The farewell of the official Uruguayan before his fans for two years. The red and white The one he moved in Valladolid, crying like a child with the phone in his hand, his family on the other side. The memory of his departure from Barça, after weeks training apart, as if he had not left his name in history (It is his third scorer, after Messi and César), with a 30-second call, pursued by those adjectives: older, lame. At Atlético he scored 21 goals, “he will be 50 years old and will continue to do so, for whatever team he is”, he confessed to AS Simeone in September. Fundamental goals for what the banner said: to make the rojiblancos champions. This season, the second he signed, the one that ends in June without extension, there have been 13. He is the team’s top scorer but from February to today he watched from the bench as Cunha got ahead of him. 55% of the possible minutes in the League, 22% of participation in the goals. Without him since April 2, against Alavés, a double when he had already lost his place, when he was already moldy on the bench.
Trippier is gone. trippier is gone. In January, to Newcastle. Without the substitute that Atlético brought, Wass, filling Cholo’s eye even in training. Trippier was key in last LaLiga. That long side that gave Llorente flight, that side that fit like a glove in that new system, 3-5-2. Neither Vrsaljko nor Wass, of course, nor Llorente himself have known how to make English that, in addition, in November, in Mestalla, he was injured for several weeks, falling on his shoulder and getting a serious sprain.
Llorente. That has been one of the names. For what was and has been. Last season everything, those 13 goals and 12 assists, the best of his career, consolidating Anfield; Is nothing. But nothing literal. Or almost. zero goals one day from the end and three assists (two in the League and one in the Cup), conditioned by those trips to the side in which Saúl was lost. Eleven games this season he has played in defense, conditioned by that loss of Trippier that a year ago was his best partner. So far from the bottom lineto which he always continues to arrive as if nothing happened, when those who persecute him have already lost their breath.
Lemar is another of the names. In the empty stadiums due to COVID last season, the Frenchman was finally the one in training, that Monaco star that Griezmann asked the club in 2018 to continue at Atleti. And make the leap in quality. But the 70 million that the club then paid for him, the most expensive signing in its history until the arrival a year later of João Félix (120), they seemed to weigh on their shoulders. Like a Halley’s comet shined on Tallinn in the Super Cup from Europe 2018 and it went off. Simeone, however, continued to trust him. And he put him. And he insisted. Although it seemed like a failed signing, a lost case… last LaLiga exploded. Smear that glue between the lines. Lemar and brush in the boot. Lemar key. Lemar in everything. Lemar each party distributing zascas. To those who had stopped believing that the Lemar who had arrived in Madrid was the same one who came from Monaco. But this season the injuries have condemned him. But this season in the League Lemar has not even reached 50% of the minutes played (43%). But this season Atleti has hardly been able to count on him. And he has regretted it. Like the “absence” of all those men who led Atleti to become champions on May 22 in Zorrilla. A year will do. He seems further away.