In which I go Don Draper, football-style
Other than not being born to a prostitute, not growing up on a farm, not serving in the military, not accidentally killing my commanding officer, not stealing his identity, not living in Manhattan, not being a serial cheater, not promoting sexism and anti-Semitism, not wearing a suit to work every day, not being an alcoholic, not being married, not having kids, not owning a house, not having great hair and not getting hit on every 5 minutes, I’m a lot like Don Draper from Mad Men. After all, we both work in/around advertising and have a five o’clock shadow right after shaving.
Like Don, I also have a wandering eye, though mine manifests itself in sports instead of the bedroom. I may be married to specific teams in certain sports, but sometimes I dally on the side with a club du jour. In soccer, I’ve tied myself down to Liverpool. Hell or high water, I’ll stick by them. But if the EPL is my house, La Liga is the bar down the street. And while I’ve beat this analogy to death, let’s just say I’ve begun to tango with Atletico Madrid. Today’s Champs draw against my arch-enemy (Chelsea) was icing on the cake; this piece was already in the hopper. But the fact that they have a slight chance to rattle the cage of Drogba and his merry band of miscreants makes having Atletico Madrid as my Other Team of this season even sweeter.
You seldom choose your Other Team; usually, they choose you. In my case, it started as I watched AM dismantle the Reds in a friendly. I wanted to hate them, I wanted to be mad, but I was smitten with their style. The athleticism, skill, and energy exhibited by their front line made me green with jealousy. Then I saw their Champs qualifiers against Panathanaikos, and their playground approach totally won me over. Other than their next door neighbors, no club on Earth can complete with that attack.
Diego Forlan was Europe’s golden boot winner last season, and I’d love for any Man U fans who remember his time there to tell me why he failed. He’s lethally accurate with great touch, and he has that Ronaldo-esque quality of turning a game on a dime with a shot from outside the box. Sergio Aguero’s athleticism complements Forlan perfectly. He shreds opponents with circus tricks on the ball; Aguero might be the most theatrical player in the world. No single defender on any team can stop him.
This duo scored a brace each in March when they beat Barcelona 4-3, and if they have a glimmer of hope in La Liga, it’ll come from beefy scorelines like those.
Maxi Rodriguez and Simao complement them from the midfield and wing respectively, providing outstanding support and a fair few goals of their own. The defenders are nothing to write home about, but Atletico did add a new keeper this year. Sergio Asenjo is the U-21 goalie for Spain and has been tabbed as the likely successor to Casillas some years from now. All youngsters are prone to inconsistency, but Asenjo has a chance to grow into one of the world’s greats and will get plenty of experience deflecting kicks with a porous back 4 in front of him.
Yeah, the uniforms are some of the worst in major football. They have almost no shot at La Liga. They don’t know how to play defense. But there’s a vitality to their fast-break, wide-open style, and I can’t look away. Every game will be thrilling, and it’s hard to ever say they’re out of a match.
You couldn’t ask for a better football mistress than Atletico Madrid.