These are strange times at the Vicente Calderon. Following a period of unprecedented success, which saw Atletico Madrid somehow crowbar themselves into talk of Europe’s biggest clubs and having forced the expansion of the big two in La Liga to the big three, they are now at somewhat of a crossroads.
This is not entirely about the two draws against Alaves and Leganes - although it is related - in the opening two rounds of the league’s new season, but in terms of their evolution as a group of players.
Antoine Griezmann is inevitably being linked with a move away from the club - just days after the transfer window shut, might I add - and all of a sudden, what was meant to be their best chance to challenge on all fronts is shrouded in speculation.
It looks like Griezmann and Simeone, however, come in a package deal because the French talisman is not going anywhere until his coach does:
"The only thing I wanted to know was whether there was a possibility that Simeone would go to Paris Saint-Germain," Griezmann said.
"Simeone is a very important person for me, and that is why I called him before renewing.
"He told me he was staying and that was sufficient for me. I'm happy in Spain and I have a lot of things to learn from him."
Who blinks first?
I guess this is what comes with the territory and when you currently own the rights to one of the best players and managers in the world, you have to deal with it.
What will be interesting, however, is how Atletico respond to some of the turmoil* surrounding the club since the start of the season. Griezmann’s comments about fighting relegation, Saul’s retort, the dropped points and the speculation about Griezmann’s future.
Atletico play Celta Vigo, in the Balaidos, on Saturday at 12pm and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Celta Vigo are an attacking side that Atletico can sit back against and play their “natural” game. They have not started well, after a 1-0 loss against Leganes on the opening weekend, followed by a relatively better 2-1 loss to Real Madrid.
Speculation is compounded by results that jump off the page - a loss or draw to Celta Vigo for Atletico certainly jumps off the page. No news is good news as far as Atletico Madrid, Diego Simeone and his team are concerned and if they can get back to ‘business as usual’ on Saturday, all will be well.
Another tick in the L/D column and that might be a different story entirely.
*Def: a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty - it is certainly not full-blown turmoil but there has been some confusion in recent weeks.