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Breaking down Atlético’s plan without Simeone

Atlético will be without the coach until the start of their LaLiga season.

Atletico De Madrid Players Go To Portugal For Champions League Photo by Joaquin Corchero / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

Diego Simeone tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend and is isolating at home as Atlético Madrid prepare for a new season. Simeone is the fifth member of the first team set-up to test positive for the virus — Santiago Arias, Ángel Correa, Diego Costa and Šime Vrsaljko tested positive as well.

The coach will be back in two weeks, just in time to roar instructions from the sideline against Granada at the end of September. The positive test result and the consequences have left many wondering what the team will do in his absence.

Simeone’s attention to detail is well-known. He will be on the phone, outlining training plans and getting videos of the work his players are doing. But nothing beats being there and, Simeone will have to spend the next two weeks at home.


Longtime deputy German Burgos left the club over the summer. The Argentinian, who departed to embark on his own coaching career, would have been the perfect replacement for Simeone given their long relationship and mutual trust. Nelson Vivas, another Argentinian, has stepped into Burgos’ role as the assistant manager. But he was in contact with Cholo and is also isolated.

Vivas will undergo a test and get the results on Monday and could return to training once those results are returned and bring good news.

Atletico de Madrid Training Session Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Óscar “El Profe” Ortega, the highly-demanding strength and conditioning coach, took the training session on Sunday and will continue to coach the team. Ortega has been with the club since 2006 but spent a spell at the Vicente Calderon before Simeone called him to come back in 2011. Goalkeeping coach Pablo Vercellone will also play a bigger role in the coming weeks.

AS says the message from the coaching staff is to treat this is a challenge to grow, to embrace the adversity. Atlético will look to improve on last season despite seeing the coronavirus cripple the transfer market. Barcelona are in a state of radical change and Real Madrid have made no signings, either. Atlético might be able to take advantage of the uncertainty and steal a march in LaLiga this season, unlike previous years when their early season form has hurt them before a title challenge could truly take off.

Simeone’s positive results throws another spanner in the works for Atlético. But with Ortega overseeing things in an increasingly-experienced squad, the team might be able to emerge from this in decent enough nick when Granada come to town at the end of September.