Atletico Madrid pride themselves on suffering for results, but even by Rojiblanco standards, it’s been a difficult year for them.
Despite it looking far from certain right up until the month of May, Atletico Madrid have qualified for the Champions League for the tenth year in a row by virtue of 2-0 victory over Elche.
Speaking after that match, manager Diego Simeone addressed the achievement, which would have seemed highly unlikely when he took over.
“I am happy above all for the footballers that played an irregular season, with a Champions League in which we competed very well and a league in which we lacked consistency until we reached the league of 14 matches.”
“We reached the objective, I think it’s been the result of work, something we deserved and that we have achieved for another year.”
Mundo Deportivo covered his press conference after the match, in which El Cholo reflected on where Atletico Madrid were when he took over the club.
“I remember that the first times I spoke with Enrique [Cerezo] or Miguel [Angel Gil Marin] they told me that it was important to get into the Champions League for the next four or five seasons for the stability of the club. Now we’re onto our tenth…”
“And it’s something that has been achieved because of the work of many people you don’t see. Thanks to their work we are preparing for a new campaign competing in the Champions League.”
As Euan McTear points out, Simeone has entirely changed the direction of the club and overseen them grow into the third force in Spanish football.
10/10 seasons with Simeone in charge that Atlético Madrid have qualified for the Champions League.
Before Cholo, it was 3/20 possible qualifications for the Champions League, or 8/57 qualifications for the European Cup in general.
He has completely changed the club’s trajectory.
— Euan McTear (@emctear) May 11, 2022
The victory over Elche opened up a six point gap to Real Betis in fifth place, but with a better head-to-head record, are guaranteed to finish higher than Los Verdiblancos. With a five point deficit to Barcelona in second and two games remaining, Atleti would have to hope the Catalans lose both their remaining games in order to finish higher than third.