Diego Simeone snub and the crucial Liverpool strength it hints at against Real Madrid


The Simeone snub was a thing of true beauty.

The battle with Atletico Madrid always threatened to be an ugly affair. Diego Simeone is not a football man renowned for his manners, on or off the pitch, but in this particular case, the dark arts master clutched at a one-goal deficit heading into his squad’s second-leg group stage stage clash at Anfield.

Elite-level s *** housery is what Simeone does and elite-level s *** housery was what this second-leg was going to get.

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That Liverpool would so powerfully reduce his antics to silent snubbery was downright savage. That doing so would ease Klopp and co. into the last-16 with two games to spare on a 100 per cent win record only added to the levels at play between Liverpool and their opponents.

This was the ‘group of death’, composed of AC Milan, Porto and the dark-art wielding Spanish champions. And Liverpool would stroll coolly through it, the first English team to do so.

Simeone admitted that shaking hands after matches is not really his style, particularly not after losing so comprehensively. For all his idiosyncrasies, Simeone can never be accused of fake sentiment.

But Simeone’s refusal to shake Klopp’s hand, or any Liverpool hand for that matter, felt particularly defining in this road to the Champions League final.

On the surface, the victory meant Liverpool were unbeaten in 25 matches in all competitions (18 wins and seven draws). The streak was the club’s joint-longest since the club joined the Football League in 1893, a twitter-type statistic that sends chills up the spine.


More significantly however was the terrifying mentality required to reach this point.

In Liverpool’s silverware laden European history, never had they finished the group stages with a 100 per cent win record. The squad were cresting into history-making territory, and they did not look the least fazed by the occasion.

Against a side like Simeone’s, few would have blamed them for some buckling. Klopp and Simeone espouse hugely different football philosophies. There was going to be some abrasion physically as much as mentally, or so conventional football wisdom claimed. Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have unsettled a number of footballing giants with its vicious win-at-all-costs tactics. Manchester United would eventually become a victim. Manchester City would only just make it out alive.

On reflection, Liverpool’s dismissal of them is all the more impressive. At Anfield, Simeone’s infamous dogs of war tucked their tails between their legs in the face of Klopp’s mentality monsters.

What that intimates for the Champions League final is interesting.

Real Madrid do not indulge in Simeone-style tactics, but they exude an unapologetic quality of their own in their near occult ability to rise from the dead and lay claim to victory at the most inconceivable of moments.

Some might argue such an quality is something a squad gets hold of after drinking the water of European success for so long. Others would point to opponents’ inability to deal with a squad capable of thriving in the slimmest of intangible margins.

That Liverpool dealt so firmly with Atletico suggests that the intangibles of opponents are not something that this squad fears but relishes. When opponents’ hurl the biggest of guns at them this season, Liverpool have proven to be unstoppable, to deal with fire with their own inferno.

Real Madrid are a different breed of football animal. They’re ability to conjure magic out of less than nothing exists outside the realm of football analysis. There are no game plans for that sort of caliber. Liverpool know that all too well after 2018.

Still, the Atletico victory intimated that Liverpool are more than capable of combatting a team that relies so heavily on intangibles. They too are a different breed of football animal. Silencing Simeone was just the beginning.



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