Atletico had to have a hard time against Athletic to recover what they considered to be theirs. Those three points frozen in January by Filomena, with whom she had fantasized when Barca and Real Madrid gave her encouragement, are now a reality. To grab them with both hands, he had to raise a match that, at times, seemed far from his reach. Between Llorente and Suarez, the red-and-white gold couple traced Muniain’s initial blow ( 2-1 ) and laid the leader down on a much softer mattress.

And it is that Atlético appeared somewhat stunned to that key appointment in which he had to definitively update his accounts. As if some blood still flowed from Benzema’s last-minute stab, in the derby that had taken place three days ago on that same grass. Between the red-and-white apathy and Athletic’s fang, the leader remained trapped for a long time in that glass cage that Marcelino had devised. Oblak screamed. Savic seconded him. Bellowed Beautifully. Suarez cursed. But those of Simeone were incapable of responding to the double Cup finalist, which for a reason is. The ball and the desire, during almost the entire first act, were the patrimony of the Basque team, where Muniain threw together everything that Joao Felix, in the other trench was unable to connect. It was difficult to tell which of the two was playing at home beyond the visitor’s gray uniform.

It is clear that without a will the talent is not enough had whispered in the previous Simeone, pointing in the direction of Joao, who returned to be a starter. That he remained for more than an hour until Correa took his place lost in the inconsequential. Not only offensive but also defensive. Eye pressure is never usually effective. So Athletic, which was successful in any rojiblanco attempt to block him, ended up tearing Atlético’s face with a blow from Muniain. That supernatural defensive solidity of the leader seems a thing of the past. The fact is that Iñaki Williams, always looking for the backs of the centrals, ended up finding his partner in the heart of the area, and he, with a run over but lethal shot deceived Oblak and gave the leader another good slap on the wrist.


Although beyond Simeone’s suffocation, who was taken by the demons, it also did not serve to get Atlético out of his catatonia. Luis Suárez was an island in attack and, apart from a couple of distant shots from Carrasco, Unai Simón had a haven of calm around him. Raúl García, who could still have a few good minutes at the command of the Argentine coach, bit for every ball, bare-chested with Savic and Felipe. That old warrior spirit, with the scent of napalm, which is now only perceived in each stake of Suárez.

Atlético insisted on going to the dressing room below the scoreboard but ended up finding afloat when the clock and the shouts from the Athletic bench demanded rest. Marcos Llorente’s head, after a sharp center from Lemar, eased a path that loomed bumpily. A saving lightning bolt that preceded Simeone’s, surely, intense chatter in the booth. They had saved part of the skin in an afternoon designed to increase their pride and their income at the head of the general.

It was really only five minutes what the leader needed to turn the scoreboard. Just after the second act dawned, Luis Suárez loomed over the Bilbao area and Unai Núñez ended up biting the bait. His foot hit that of the Uruguayan tip and Gil Manzano did not hesitate to signal a penalty. Nobody protested. If Suarez was there, it was because Llorente had found him on his radar. And from that luck came the 18th goal from the rojiblanco gunner, with which Atlético once again raised another steep episode.

Athletic pushed and Atletico rolled up their sleeves in search of a lethal backlash that, as happened in the derby, they did not find either. Give him time, give him. Marcelino’s boys insisted over and over again, far from giving up. For that last round, neither Lemar nor Joao Felix nor Luis Suarez was there, sprawled out in the stands, with no intention of putting on their coat. A rest for the warrior or protection against the four yellow ones that he carries in his backpack.

Simeone’s lived with a heavy heart until their last breath. Until that last ball towards which Oblak flew fearlessly. Atletico, despite playing with fire did not burn. So now he sleeps again on a soft mattress.