Tim Stannard laments the continued ignorance towards reigning La Liga champions Atlético Madrid, despite Saturday's 4-0 trouncing of city rivals Real...
Before Adam begat Eve and The Lord scattered dinosaur bones across the Earth 4,000 years ago to test our resolve, there were two forces.
A force for good and a force for evil. Or both for evil if you happen to be of LLL’s general minnow-loving leaning.
The two rose and fell when the atoms of the earth were still forming, but were forever entwined in a spaghetti bolognese of destiny. But then Atlético came along to scatter Parmesan cheese of doom across both lands.
This third power that looks like it could be here to stay for a while has utterly destabilised the balance of La Liga power in a huge bout of footballing climate change. Whenever Real Madrid or Barcelona suffered a lapse, it was usually against each other and thus was able to be rationalised by supporters.
José Mourinho’s 5-0 loss to Barcelona, Real Madrid’s biggest humiliation before the Vicente Calderón catastrophe, was against arguably one of the best club sides the game has seen. Saturday’s 4-0 defeat was against an outfit with a former Osasuna winger at full-back, and a Frenchman with a skunk on his head.
Had Cristiano Ronaldo turned 30 when Real Madrid lost 4-2 to Real Sociedad early in the season, nobody would have cared a jot. But the Atlético Madrid factor turns every mini crisis into one the size of Jupiter. Barcelona finished second in La Liga last season, which was bad enough. Losing to both the accursed outfit from Mordor and Atlético Madrid would have been too much to bear.
For Real, a Sergio Ramos header in Lisbon, and an awful lot of spinning in the circles of FIFA and Spanish media, meant that the memory of Atlético’s success last season had been largely wiped.
But six failures to beat the Rojiblancos across three competitions this season, combined with a complete capitulation, has picked open Real's wounds.
In a way, it is still an enormous disrespect to Atlético Madrid that the local media is calling chaos, as if losing to the league champions and very near Champions League winners is something shameful. But that also reflects how La Liga is still trying to adapt to a new reality where there are three power centres.
However, the mud-slinging and panic visits to Florentino Pérez with carefully ‘leaked’ messages to the press merely play into Atlético Madrid’s hands. The focus remains on Real Madrid's failure rather than the continued footballing miracle of Diego the Disrupter and his band of merry men.
Despite losing the backbone of a title-winning side, Atlético, 22 matches in, are still in with a chance of winning La Liga and breathing down the neck of last year’s losers. But as ever, few will notice while the rights and wrongs of a harmless birthday party are debated and argued over.
As LLL has noted before, the football landscape in La Liga has changed for good in Atlético Madrid’s favour. But still no one takes much notice. Luckily for them, it's exactly how the Vicente Calderón club want things to be.