Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone face off in mouthwatering Champions League quarter-final

Champions League knock-outs are always special nights. They change cities into madmen ready to do anything for their team to continue to the next change. After a two-week international break, the magical European competition is back, promising an eventful clash with the experimental clash opposing Pep’s Manchester City against Diego Simeone’s Atlético de Madrid.

Disliked by English media for his stereotypical defensive style, the Argentinian once again faced hazardous questions from agenda-driven British journalists. His rival, on the other hand, praised Simeone’s heroics: Whatever the general perception of Cholismo may be, fans are certain to se a spectacle tonight at the Etihad.

What is Cholismo, in 2022? Often referred to as Simeone’s playstyle that refers directly to his name from his time as a player (‘El Cholo’, for the energy he gave in his pressing as a midfielder), Cholismo combines philosophical and tactical ideas that shape the mentality of Atlético under Diego Simeone.

Suffering is part of the game, the game that Simeone wants his players to play. There needs to be grief and suffering for goals and wins to be enjoyed, a never-ending grinding mentality best represented under the umbrella of a team that doesn’t mind defending for over 75 minutes if necessary to secure a 1-0 goal lead. Throughout the middle and end of the 2010’s, this is what Cholismo referred to. The famous 2016 generation, challenging the best of Europe in the Champions League before eventually bowing down in the final, had shaped Europe’s scene for the incoming next years, though most did not see it coming.

Bleeding, in 2021 and 2022, has not disappeared from Cholismo. But where once a team defended in its penalty box throughout the season, the Cholistic stereotype holds no truth anymore: Much like his opponent Pep Guardiola, Diego Simeone has evolved into a new manager, holding his old ideas and evolving them as football and time required him to do so. The 2020-2021 La Liga-winning team has little in common with the iconic 2016 generation. Though bleeding kicked in the second part of the season despite a significant lead in the winter break, Atlético’s team looked much more offensive than most would like to think.

This La Liga-winning squad most likely will go down in history as an overperforming squad. Through low expectations, low xG figures and low competition, Atlético Madrid slid through the ranks by continuing to win game after game in the first half of the season, notably with Barcelona–recruited Luis Suárez, notably in his exceptional 14 goal contributions in 29 games.

Known to have cooled off in the last year, the Uruguayan international had revealed to the world he hadn’t said his last word; he would not go down without a fight. On the other hand, a certain Jan Oblak continued to perform save after save to ensure a small amount of goals would arrive in his own net. Where most knew Oblak as an excellent goalkeeper, this season’s saves proved to be just as important despite the regularity in which his services were requested.

On the other hand, Pep Guardiola. If Cholismo had little hype and is often seen from a bad angle where nobody sympathizes with them, Guardiolismo is the polar opposite. Wherever the Catalan has gone, he has been accepted as one of the world’s best and his famous brand of football, El Juego De Posición has seen many adopt this brand of football as the benchmark for modern football, despite german gegenpressing has been a tough competition. 

If Cholismo wants players to suffer, Guardiolismo wants players to enjoy football. And that is what makes this clash so inspiring: The perception of either manager seem to be more polarized more than ever; ironically enough, both have faced massive critiqued: Pep was told he can’t win the Champions League despite spending enormous amounts of money since coming to City, and therefore is seen as a failure. Simeone has had his fair amount of criticism for his lack of flexibility, specifically this season for all the recruits in De Paul and Cunha whilst failing to find the perfect formula to make Atlético tick once again.

Despite all possible criticism, both managers often have managed to brush off the hateful mouths right in time: Pep’s machine is better-oiled than ever, whilst Diego Simeone’s team has been on fire since winning against Manchester United: What that means for tonight is however another question. Diego Simeone himself has admitted that “Manchester City are favorites in this clash”: Still, when has this stopped the Argentinian? If anything, that’s always what has let his team strive. Under pressure do we often find the best performances.

Pep Guardiola, on his side, dismissed any segregative question on the Cholistic stereotype: He’s also mentioned that Cholo’s style is more offensive than most would be willing to: Furthermore, the Catalan has admitted to “overthinking a lot, loving to create stupid tactics but tomorrow we will play with 12 men”. A quote that will go down in the already long-list of famous Pep Guardiola quotes that will be remembered by Twitter users for its potential memetic usage. 

The next 180 minutes are set to be on fire. Where a rivalry has only been forced by the media whilst the two managers admire each other secretly, it is also time for football fans to grab six pack beers: There is not much that can be predicted in football but one of them is that a clash of philosophies is set to take place, and few warriors will be able to remain on their feet at the end of this epic clash. For neutral, the perfect atmosphere to enjoy between the hailed angel and the ugly duck.

Tags Atletico Madrid Champions League Diego Simeone La Liga Manchester City Pep Guardiola
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