Atletico Madrid are flying. Ten points clear at the top of La Liga with a game in hand, Diego Simeone’s men are currently on course to hit 100 points come season’s end. And as Diario AS have underlined, they’ve done it in the midst of adversity.
Los Rojiblancos are what they call in Spain a pineapple, a team that is bound together and more than the sum of their parts. This unity has been underlined and strengthened in recent months given the blows fate has thrown against them.
Chief among these external difficulties is covid-19. Yannick Carrasco, Mario Hermoso, Joao Felix and Ousmane Dembele have all tested positive in the past week.
On top of these four, ten other men contracted to Atletico have tested positive in the past, including Geoffrey Kondogbia, Simeone, Renan Lodi, Angel Correa, Sime Vrsaljko, Diego Costa, Santiago Arias, Jose Gimenez, Lucas Torreira and Luis Suarez.
They’ve also had to deal with losing Thomas Partey to Arsenal on the final day of the transfer window, as well as the mutual termination of Diego Costa’s contract six months before its natural end in December.
Defeats, when they have come, have been met with resistance. They bounced back from losing 4-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League to make it to the last 16, recovered from a 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid to go on an indomitable domestic run and responded to elimination in the Copa del Rey to UE Cornella by switching focus to their remaining objectives.
There’s also the Kieran Trippier situation. Fully settled into the Spanish capital and thriving on the right flank, he was banned by the English FA for a betting violation and will miss a total of ten weeks, a real blow given Simeone is lacking a natural replacement at right back.
The Argentine is dealing with this, however, like he and his team have dealt with everything this season, with intelligence and ingenuity. Los Colchoneros are looking lean, mean and serene, taking no prisoners as they leave the rest of Spain in their dust.