We should go back to the 1995/1996 season. A quarter of a century then. Because so much has passed since Atletico last had a nine-point advantage over Barcelona. It was Radomir Antić's Atletico with Milinko Pantić, Kik, Ljuboslav Penev… and Diego Simeone.
A football player. It was also the last title of Atletico Madrid until 2013 and that generation with Arda Turan, David Villa, Juanfran and Diego Simeone. Coach. If he hadn't done anything else in his life because of those two crowns, Cholo would have been remembered as a deity on the red and white side of Madrid forever.
It's just that he didn't get there by being satisfied quickly. The great always want better, they want what they didn't have. And the only thing that Cholo didn't have was Barcelona. He never had their game, technique, and he didn’t wave her scalp either.
Because no matter how much he managed to shake the hegemony of the two biggest Spanish clubs, what he failed to do in these nine years in Madrid is to win Barcelona in the Primera. Not once. And that's why: title, because Barcelona could really say goodbye to the title in case of defeat, because nine points is a huge difference, especially when you have so many problems in the club.
But in order for Barcelona to fall behind so much already, Atletico would have to beat them. And that's not working anymore. Not in the championship. They won against Barca in the Champions League and the Super Cup, but in the championship - never.
Pride, Atletico now have bigger problems. Because even though Barcelona has more absentees on paper - Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Samuel Umtiti - Atletico do not have the most important one: Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan was infected with the corona virus at the national team action in South America, and he will not be with Joao Felix, with whom he made such a good tandem.
So much so that Atletico, famous for their defensive wall, even started playing likeable football. True, Ronaldo Koeman will also miss the young Ansu Fati, but at least Filipe Coutinho recovered and left for Madrid. The problem could break out in the case of injury one of the defenders, Koeman took only Gerard Pique, Clemon Lenglet and two youngsters - Mingueza and Arnau Tenas.
But again, on Barça's side, 20 games without defeat by Atletico Madrid in the championship. The last defeat was in February 2010. He also scored a goal in Athletic's net on every visit to Madrid since the 2013/2014 season.
Only Lionel Messi, who is playing his 800th game for Barcelona tonight, scored 32 goals for Atletico in 41 games. However, this Koeman's Barça in the era of the disintegration of the government of Josep Maria Bartomeu does not play like some before. And maybe Atletico can really beat them.