Diego Simeone, Atlético’s coach, must feel an annoying tingling in his stomach every time he has a match against Barcelona ahead of him. The Argentine coach has managed to become the watchword of the mattress club after placing him and keeping him in the group of applicants in all the competitions he disputes, but until now he has never been able to feel comfortable before these confrontations nor can he boast of having found the right magic potion to stop the Blaugrana team in general and his compatriot Leo Messi in particular. Quite the opposite, Barça has become an annoying toothache for ‘cholismo’.
Since Simeone took over the rojiblanco bench in December 2011, Atlético has only managed to beat the Blaugrana team on three occasions in official competition, despite having enjoyed 28 opportunities for it and never in the League. It is clearly his worst balance against one of his usual rivals. With the Argentine coach, Atlético has only managed to score in 46.5 percent of their matches after having added 0.68 points on average per game. Ten draws and fifteen losses for just three wins are clearly discreet statistics.
You just have to compare the performance of the colchoneros against Real Madrid, the team with which they have played the most times (32 games). Derbies are much better for Simeone, who can boast of having scored almost 60% of the time (his team has added an average of 1.66 points). And let’s not say against Valencia, the third rival with the most clashes. Atlético has scored 85% of the time and averages almost two points per game.
Simeone made his debut against the Blaugrana team with a 1-2 defeat at Vicente Calderón on February 26, 2012 in a League match (Koke, Messi, Busquets and Piqué are the only survivors) and did not manage to score for the first time until the fourth match (1-1 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on August 21, 2013). Much more he had to wait to achieve his first triumph. It took eight games to savor that feeling. It was not until April 9, 2014, thanks to a lone goal by Koke in a Champions League match.
Yes, Simeone can always boast of having stood in the way of Barcelona at three crucial moments, because their only three victories came in two second leg matches in the quarterfinals of the Champions League (2013/2014 and 2015/2016) and in the semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup played last season in Jeddah. On those three occasions he took the cat to the water in front of Gerardo Martino, Luis Enrique Martínez and Ernesto Valverde. Precisely, that last victory caused the dismissal of Valverde. In the two previous precedents, Atlético left Barcelona by the wayside and in both cases it was planted in the final of the maximum continental competition. His bitterness is that in both Lisbon and Milan he succumbed to Real Madrid and could not lift the trophy.
The latest precedents, however, are quite favorable. Barça has not beaten Atlético for almost a year. His last victory dates from December 1, 2019 (0-1 at the Wanda Metropolitano with a goal from Messi). The two subsequent matches ended with a red-and-white victory (the aforementioned Super Cup match) and a draw (2-2 at the Camp Nou on June 30 in La Liga).