After their terrible Copa del Rey loss to third-tier Cornella, Diego Simeone suggested the possibility that he might leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.
On Wednesday, Simeone’s La Liga leaders left the Copa, dropping 1-0 to former Atletico B defender Adrian Jimenez’s goal.
As Atleti slumped to a shock reversal quickly described by the Spanish media as a ‘disaster’ among the very worst of Simeone’s 502 games in charge of the club, Ricard Sanchez was sent off.
A strong side, including record signing Joao Felix, was named by the long-time coach, but saw his team surprisingly fail to register a single shot on goal.
Copa setbacks, however, are now a common tale, with the Rojiblancos losing last season to Cultural Leonesa. Meanwhile, after seeing off Elche in January 2017, they haven’t defeated a fellow LaLiga outfit in the competition.
Atleti, remembered by Simeone, is struggling in one-off knockout matches – even losing to RB Leipzig in last season’s Champions League – but added the unexpected qualifier that it would be a dilemma to consider only if next year he was still at the helm.
‘[Cornella] was playing better,’ he said. “What they wanted was always done better than what we wanted in the entire game.
They took full advantage of the set-piece situations and found the target immediately.
2 – Atlético de Madrid have been eliminated from #CopadelRey by a third tier team in consecutive seasons for the first time (2-1 vs Cultural Leonesa in 2020 and 1-0 vs UE Cornellà in 2021). Surprise. pic.twitter.com/xnAYGQ9KCf
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 6, 2021
In the best way, the boys sought to play. We had more opportunities in the first half and it was rockier in the second. After the red card, it became complicated.
“This competition has not given us satisfaction in recent years but solutions will have to be found if we are here next year.”
The same issue was found by Saul Niguez, captain at night, as he added: “We apologize to the fans. We never throw away competitions, but in these single-game editions we are not doing well.”
The move to replace Joao Felix with 18-year-old debutant Mario Soriano 15 minutes from time sparked some debate, given Atleti’s struggles.
But Portugal’s international gathered just one shot, which was blocked prior to his withdrawal and, unlike his replacement, failed to establish a single chance.
As he executed just 13 of his 21 attempted passes and lost possession 13 times, Joao Felix epitomized the visitors’ display, winning none of his three aerial duels.