Atlético Madrid’s odds, per SBGGlobal.eu, to win the UEFA Champions League have taken quite a hit. Los Colchoneros have reached the tournament’s final in two of the last four years, but it seems as if this year Diego Simeone & Co. won’t have to worry about losing to archrivals Real Madrid. The Red-and-Whites have yet to win a single game in the group stage, losing to Chelsea and tying with Rome in their first two games, results that, though not pleasant, are not shocking either. The true tell-tale sign of Atlético’s slump is the fact that they barely managed, even while playing parts of the games with an extra player, to salvage two points in back-to-back matches with Qarabağ FK, an Azerbaijani team that was founded in what is currently a war-torn ghost town, honest injun.
Atlético currently sits third in group C with a 0-3-1 record, two goals scored, three goals against, and a minus-one goal differential. But this state of affairs is not a recent occurrence. Atlético has won only one of its last eight games across all competitions, losing once and tying six games either 0-0 or 1-1. “We have to be self-critical and rely on each other for support,” defender Diego Godin said. “We have to stay united and keep working to get past this situation. We’ve always been solid as a group, in the good and bad moments, and that has to continue.” The problem is that it isn’t even up to the mattress-makers anymore. They have to, like Blanche Dubois, depend on the kindness of strangers.
Which is to say that, in addition to defeating Roma at Wanda Metropolitano and Chelsea in Stamford Bridge, but also hope against hope the either Roma or Chelsea does the unthinkable and loses to Qarabağ. Yeah, good luck with that. It’s a rather tall order for either of those teams to blow, whether due to inadequate finishing or because of the opposing goalie’s good fortune, as many scoring chances (43) as Atlético did against the Azerbaijanis. “We have to keep working and keep creating these scoring chances,” Simeone said. “We have to keep insisting.”
The defense is in no better shape than the offense. The team has conceded six goals in the last eight games, and 10 overall this season, seven of which have been headers, including one to Qarabag, one to Chelsea, and another to Barcelona in La Liga. “These are details that we have to improve,” Godin said. “It’s what makes the difference between winning and losing.” Or maybe it’s time to start considering an exorcism. Atlético has two wins, one loss and three draws in their new home, the aforementioned Wanda Metropolitano, where they have failed to win in their last four games. There was an attendance of approximately 55,000 fans for Tuesday’s game against Qarabag, coincidentally about the capacity of the old Vicente Calderon stadium. Or was it a coincidence? Could it be that the ghost of the former Atlético president is haunting the team for demolishing his eponymous stadium? Quick, get the Scooby Gang!