Atletico Madrid pride themselves on being able to suffer through matches as part of their identity since Diego Simeone arrived back at the club as their manager. Yet this campaign has been a little overkill on that notion.
In particular, the quintessential feature of Cholo Simeone’s teams has been their defensive solidity. That characteristic has deserted them this season, as Atletico sealed their worst defensive performance under his management.
There was one positive change in the backline for Simeone however, namely the acquisition of Reinildo Mandava. The Mozambique international was never a headline arrival into the league but stood out amongst Simeone’s floundering defence.
Although it tailed off towards the final stretch, Atletico’s best spell of the season in February and March heavily featured the good form of Joao Felix and Mandava.
Missing just 235 minutes since he arrived and never an entire match, Simeone trusted him implicitly from the off. The numbers bear out his impact too, as noted by Diario AS. In the 19 matches he started, Atletico Madrid conceded 14 goals, compared to 40 in the 32 he wasn’t present. That averages out as a difference of 0.6 per match (0.74 to 1.34).
Sometimes statistics are merely confirmation of the picture our eyes give us, on other occasions they sit the reader up and make them think. With Reinildo there was clearly an excellent defender recruited, yet the manner in which he provided an extra layer of security across the backline is praiseworthy.