About a month ago, we came up with an idea — to reimagine Atlético Madrid’s season through FIFA 20. We would shape the club in our own image. The ItC readership would make decisions. We’d all prove that we could run the club we love just as effectively as Enrique Cerezo, if not more so.
It was our Second Life, Atlético Madrid-style.
The original idea was born of escapism. Atlético had just been eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Cultural Leonesa and had drawn Liverpool in the Champions League. They were 13 points adrift of Barcelona in LaLiga. João Félix looked miserable and talking about missing Lisbon. It seemed, at the time, that the season was lost on all fronts.
But a lot can change in a month. Atlético produced a vintage, Cholismo-infused performance to somehow eliminate the defending European champions — at Anfield, no less! The artist formerly known as defensive midfielder Marcos Llorente — currently known only as King Marcos I of Spain, strike partner to Álvaro Morata — produced two long-range goals to sentence the tie.
Oh, and a global pandemic swept across continents, cancelling football in all five major leagues and putting the Champions League on hold.
In the wake of COVID-19, FIFA has become the only arena in which we get to see Atleti play. Our Second Life has become our only life in terms of football.
As such, other outlets are flocking to our idea! Sergio Reguilón and Borja Iglesias played out a virtual Derbi Sevillano on FIFA 20 to an audience of 60,000 streamers on Twitch. LaLiga plans on playing a FIFA 20 tournament with one player representing each club. The Phoenix Suns are simulating all their remaining 2020 games on NBA 2K. Virtual Luka Dončić dropped 50 points and 18 assists on the Suns in the first game they “played.”
All that to say — we need Second Life now more than ever.
Given the current circumstances, we are modifying our scenario slightly.
It is summer 2020. Social distancing has flattened the global curve, and epidemiologists and medical authorities in Spain have given La Liga 20/21 the green light. After the lockdown was lifted, a squad of Atlético players — Carrasco, Oblak, Saúl and Thomas — faced off against some Real Madrid counterparts (Benzema, Carvajal, Courtois and Valverde) in a pachanga at a street pitch in La Finca, the bougie neighborhood where the rich and the famous live. Predictably, even in the fancy neighborhood, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo live in the nice part, while Diego Simeone and his players live on the “cheap side.”
Here is some iPhone footage that passerby captured of the kickabout.
After the cathartic victory at Anfield — the last night of global football before COVID-19 cancelled everything — Second Life: Atlético supporters overwhelmingly voted to keep Cholo Simeone on as manager. The club immediately ceased negotiations with Mauricio Pochettino and Steve Kerr.
“I’m honored to continue our project at this club,” Simeone said at a press conference. “I can’t believe you actually thought about hiring Megan Rapinoe and Marcelino over me. Profe Ortega will make the players carry rocks up an extra mountain today as penance.
“That said, we will all work really hard and improve. Nunca dejes de creer.”
(NOTE: I used this YouTube video to create virtual Simeone, since you can’t pick an actual manager for Career Mode.)
After a round of applause for Cholo, Enrique Cerezo took the stand.
“Given our investment in the club these past couple of seasons, and given how last season ended, we have two objectives this year,” he said.
“Number one, win the Champions League. It’s high time we did that. Number two, at least make the semis of the Copa del Rey. Last year was an embarrassment.
“I’d also love to see us make a big move in the transfer market,” he continued. “We have cash to splash and the window is open, so we’re planning on making a big move before the season starts.”
As football started up again after the pandemic, Atlético accepted an invitation to compete in the International Champions Cup. They played their first match at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, against a familiar foe.
Still reeling from their loss at Anfield four months earlier, Jürgen Klopp’s men were a shell of their former selves. Like the match on Merseyside, they kept the ball pretty much the whole match. Unfortunately for them, Atlético scored on five counterattacks, resulting in a brutal 5-0 scoreline.
(NOTE: I’m raising the in-game difficulty going forward.)
In a welcome sight for Atleti supporters, wonder kid João Félix scored a hat trick and set up a fourth goal for Saúl. He was also awesome in the 2019 preseason, so supporters hope that he can maintain this form in matches that actually count.
“I’ve found my footing in Madrid,” he told BeIN Sports after the match. “I don’t miss Lisbon as much. I know where things are now — the grocery store, the kebab shop, the fro-yo spot. I’m here for real now.”
Atleti will face Inter Milan and Bayern Munich before flying back home to Madrid.
And now, dear reader, we have a decision to make together.
Cerezo has sanctioned a big cash splash in the transfer market. He’s so grateful to Simeone for returning to the club that he’s finally given him carte blanche to get whomever he wants.
“Name your player,” he told Simeone. “And name your price.”
So, whom should we target?
Who should Atleti’s first big transfer target be?
This poll is closed
Someone Else (Write your pick in the comments)
This poll includes several targets who figure to be on the move this summer (Werner, Havertz, Sancho). Our virtual scouts are already evaluating Ansu Fati, so let’s throw him in the mix. It also includes Erling Haaland (because why not?) and Alphonso Davies, at Cerezo’s request.
“I’m a huge fan of Alphonso Davies’s TikTok presence,” Cerezo told Cholo privately. “I know we already have Renan Lodi at left back, but I really think Davies can help us reach a younger fanbase who see us as buttoned-up and boring. Get him with our marketing team and he’ll make magic!”
The final name — Sandro Tonali, a 19 year-old Italian midfielder — has a potential of 91 on SoFifa. I’ve never heard of him, but I don’t watch much Serie A and am generally ignorant about these types of things. As of January, Atlético had (allegedly) thrown their hats in for him. Juventus, Barcelona, and Inter have all been linked to him in the past 24 hours.
Also, feel free to write in a candidate! Make your voice heard! Second Life: Atleti will go get whomever you pick.
One final question: should we sell anyone to finance the move? If so, who? Let us know in the comments!