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Second Life: Atlético Madrid (Poll Included, Participation Requested)

The first part of a virtual Atlético reimagining.

Juventus F.C. v Atletico de Madrid: International Champions Cup Friendly Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

In the early 2000s, a San Francisco startup launched a virtual world called Second Life. In Second Life, users — called “residents” — create avatars and do things that they could do during their everyday lives, except on the Internet. They build buildings. They buy and sell property. They interact with other avatars.

In middle school, I had a theatre teacher who was not-so-secretly really into Second Life. The other teachers would dunk on him relentlessly for it. On an episode of The Office, Dwight made a Second Life avatar. Jim, of course, mocked him for it. In 2003, if you were on Second Life, the stereotype went, your first life must’ve been lame. During the day, you’d watch anime, not talk to potential significant others, and engage in other dweeb-y pursuits. At night, you’d escape into virtual reality.

In 2019, things are different. Role-playing games as diverse as Skyrim and Stardew Valley are downright mainstream. The types of people who play these games are now major personalities at ESPN. Zion Williamson watches Naruto with his mom. Jonah Hill would be cool in high school and Channing Tatum wouldn’t.

And Second Life has a community of nearly a million residents.

Last month, Cultural Leonesa eliminated Atlético de Madrid from the Copa del Rey. As Jeremy Beren tweeted, “Don’t think there’s much more analysis needed.”

Atlético, amazingly, rebounded on Tuesday to beat Liverpool in the final 16 of the Champions League. But still, they’re 13 points off the pace in LaLiga and face a second leg at Anfield next month. I’m an optimist by nature, but it’s still entirely possible that the club we all love so much will find itself with nothing to play for by mid-March.

At the start of this season, we understood that this year would involve a significant rebuild, that master motivator Cholo Simeone would need to somehow coax results out of a battered, youthful squad. That hasn’t happened, and this season’s poor results could lead to the ouster of, with apologies to Luis Aragonés, the best manager the club has ever had.

When I pictured the end for Diego Simeone at Atlético Madrid, I pictured trophies, big gestures, a fiery speech at Neptuno. The Cholo era could yet end not with a bang, but with a whimper. If anyone in the sports world had needed to burrow into escapism for most of the past eight weeks, it’s probably Atleti supporters.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: Second Life, Atlético de Madrid style.

In FIFA 20 Career Mode, you can create a manager and take control of your favorite club. You decide who plays, the tactics you employ and your club’s transfer strategy. You figure out how to get the most out of your squad and individual players through man management and individual conversations.

Together, you — the ITC readership — and I will take the helm of a virtual Atlético side and make these decisions. As much as we love Cholo, I’m sure many of us have questioned his decisions over the years. Now’s the time to prove our chops.

One part fanfiction, one part Breaking Madden, and eight parts pure fantasy and escapism, it’s Second Life: Atlético Madrid!

The Ground Rules

Before making major decisions in the game, I’ll post a poll in the latest piece in this series. Whichever option gets the most votes defines the action we will take. During this past season, maybe you’ve wanted to see more of Vitolo or Héctor Herrera. Maybe you, like the media, have lost patience with João Félix and want to sit him for a match or two. Maybe you would have signed 33-year-old Edinson Cavani for a total cost of €70 million!

For my part, I’m probably a roughly average FIFA player. I’ll set the difficulty to World Class and simulate most matches, potentially playing in a limited number of key games. I’ll also post clips, screenshots and whatever else I can figure out how to get off of my Xbox.

The First Decision: Who is Manager?

The first choice we need to make together is whom to appoint as manager. Should we keep Cholo? Or hire a candidate with fresher ideas?

NOTE: I’ll do my best to customize an avatar of the manager we choose, but the game gives you limited options.

The Incumbent

Real Madrid CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Diego Simeone: The legend. He hasn’t been fired, but his position is more precarious than it’s ever been. Should we keep him on in our Second Life?

Real Options

Valencia CF v RCD Mallorca - La Liga Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Marcelino: The Marcelino era at Valencia seemed relatively successful, as he won a Copa del Rey over Barça. He’s the only Spaniard on this list, which could resonate with the fan base. Could he be the man for the virtual job?

Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata v Central Cordoba - Superliga 2019/20 Photo by Rodrigo Valle/Getty Images

Mauricio Pochettino: People seem to think this could happen in real life. An Argentine-for-Argentine swap could be just what our virtual club needs.


Mutua Madrid Open - Day Nine Photo by David Aliaga/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tiago Mendes: A club legend and one of Cholo’s assistants the past couple seasons, Tiago brought grit and grind — qualities that the current squad seems to lack — to Atleti. Should we hire him to replace his mentor? Or is he more of the same?

U.S. Women’s National Team v Portugal: Victory Tour Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Megan Rapinoe: Why not? Megan Rapinoe is amazing at soccer and has a sky-high global approval rating. We’re also playing a video game. Should she be our avatar?

Golden State Warriors v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Steve Kerr: Steve Kerr watches soccer. He’s a noted admirer of Jürgen Klopp. His man management skills led to three NBA championships in five years with the Golden State Warriors. He’s new-age in his philosophies — in that sense, the polar opposite of old school Cholo. He’s into yoga and mindfulness. The Warriors’ facility provides kombucha on tap.

After years of historic success, he’s currently marooned at the helm of a tanking team. Should we throw him a life preserver?


Who should manage Atlético de Madrid in our Second Life?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Diego Simeone
    (54 votes)
  • 2%
    (2 votes)
  • 21%
    Mauricio Pochettino
    (20 votes)
  • 11%
    Tiago Mendes
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    Megan Rapinoe
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    Steve Kerr
    (3 votes)
93 votes total Vote Now