After watching Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid triumph over Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, a civil war within the game broke out on Twitter amongst admirers of both managers.
Whoever labelled Pep Guardiola a ‘football fraud’ caused uproar, leading to a back and forth of exchanges between football cynics and purists, but rather than join either camp, the argument just made me jump between both parties and shout ‘WILL YOU ALL JUST SHUT THE HELL UP!’. Well, that’s the polite version.
The offence taken by those fighting both corners is ridiculous to me, both of them are as bad as each other.
Football isn’t meant to be played one way, there isn’t a template for every team to play exactly the same way and that’s one of the most intriguing things about the game we all love so much.
For every Barca there has to be an Atletico Madrid. For every Arsenal there has to be a Leicester City. For every Bayern Munich there has to be a Chelsea or Inter under Mourinho.
It’s like a sum in maths. If the sum is always 2+2 then the answer will always be 4, but football just isn’t like that. Apologies to the PETA for my expression here, but there are more ways to skin a cat, just as there are more way than one to win football game.
If anything, a game like Bayern against Atleti is more an interesting prospect than Barca against Arsenal for example, because it tests the managers and poses different questions.
If you’re up a against a side of a similar ilk, that allows you to concentrate more on your own game and less concerned about your opponents.
What Simeone did was to take away the spaces and pockets Pep’s teams need to flourish and not allow their class to shine and in my mind, you’d be stupid to go toe-to-toe in a football sense and allow their superior passing style to hurt you.
Leicester City might be freaks in the sense they have turned modern day perception on its head by finishing bottom of the table with regards to possession and pass completion statistics, but they aren’t a route one in a traditional sense.
Some of their final ball passing has been devastating and the defending a pleasure to watch.
What it doesn’t do is make them the devil, or anti-football, it means they have found the answer to the type of football that had become prevalent in the Premier League and in doing so in his own style, Simeone has found a way to break to the domination of their more illustrious peers.
Surely that should be applauded as fervently as those who want beauty to overcome at all costs? Football is big enough to accommodate all styles of football and long may that continue.