Jeremy from www.intothecalderon.com, SB Nation’s Atlético Madrid blog, answers some questions about his fandom, the start of the season, and of course, whom you should (and shouldn’t!) be choosing in your UEFA Champion’s League fantasy team!
Check them out! They’re doing some good stuff at www.intothecalderon.com!
PPQ: First, a quick introduction for the Never Manage Alone fans. Where are you based? How did you first become a soccer/football fan? And when specifically an Atlético Madrid fan (fanatic?)?
Jeremy: Sure! I am based in Phoenix Arizona and have been co-managing Into the Calderón since 2016 (a long time on the Internet). I started following football during the 2011-12 NHL lockout when I needed something new to follow in hockey’s absence, and I found Atlético the next year when I started shifting my gaze toward leagues other than the Premier League (which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy that competition).
PPQ: What is it you most love about the club?
Jeremy: It’s hard to put into words. It’s a feeling of being off the beaten path, of loving something bigger than yourself. I love Diego Simeone’s passion and fire, I love the virtues the club says it espouses (though they have been known to fall short), and the team’s ability to continue competing in a league dominated by two giants of the game, where the odds are often stacked against them. I love a good underdog story, and that’s what Atlético were when I found them.
PPQ: Who are your all-time and current favorite players?
Jeremy: From the current team — Koke, Reinildo, Ángel Correa. All-time would have to include Gabriel Fernández, Diego Godín, and Raúl García.
PPQ: There was some movement this summer in and out. What did you think of the off-season business for Atleti? Any particular players you were excited about coming in or disappointed about leaving?
Jeremy: Atlético’s summer strategy did not show nearly enough ambition to compete at the top levels of the game, and I think a lot of fans and observers were disappointed the club elected to run it back with nearly the same team that failed to defend the 2020-21 league title (finishing 15 points behind Real Madrid). I was glad the club held onto Yannick Carrasco, who is an inconsistent but explosive player who can be a true difference-maker, and Correa was rumored to be looking for an exit but he stayed in the way. New right wing-back Nahuel Molina isn’t off to the best start, but he has a lot of potential, and I was hoping to see Molina and Renan Lodi playing on the flanks for us this year, but Lodi left at the end of the window in search of playing time.
Jeremy: I expected (and continue to expect) Atlético will finish 3rd or 4th in LaLiga and have to get some good fortune to go deep into cup competitions. They’re playing a lot like they did last year — The midfield is soft, the defense is injured, and there’s no number 9 in the team with a track record of 20-30 goal seasons. Simeone has a talented but imbalanced squad that he has struggled to get the most out of since the 2021 title win, and I think that will be the case this year too.
PPQ: Atletico and Diego Simone are known for their tough tactics and defensive minded play. It gets results though, including a La Liga championship in 2020-21. What do you think about their style of play?
I really enjoy counterattacking football, and Simeone’s old teams — such as the 2014 league winners and the two Champions League finalists — were stressful to watch but so satisfying to follow. And Simeone has tried to change how his team plays many times over the years — We’ve shown a lot of tactical variety, in terms of formations and speed of play — but folks who watch the Rojiblancos play four times a year don’t or won’t realize that, because the strategy for big big continental or domestic games remains the same.
PPQ: Do you manage fantasy football teams? If so, what do you play? If not, I understand. Stay away! It’s an addiction.
Jeremy: I am somewhat notorious for not keeping up with fantasy teams on a daily basis, though I have enjoyed playing fantasy football and basketball in the past! That factor usually rules me out of seriously competing in fantasy leagues.
PPQ: As a fantasy football blog, Never Manage Alone focuses on fantasy advice for our readers. Which Atleti is the one player whom fantasy managers should consider in their squads week in and week out? Who’s one player to avoid?
Jeremy: Antoine Griezmann is off to a fantastic start this season despite limited playing time (which is expected to rise soon). He’d be my bet. Sadly, João Félix is probably someone to avoid — Despite his obvious talent, the consistent goal contributions haven’t followed, as the coach and the player just don’t appear to see eye-to-eye on how to get the best out of him. João hasn’t scored yet this season and last set up a goal on August 15.
PPQ: What makes a successful season for Atletico in your mind? In la Liga? In Champion’s League?
Jeremy: I would be happy if Atleti finished 3rd and within 7-9 points of Real Madrid and Barcelona. I would love to see them win the Copa del Rey for the first time since 2013 and at least qualify for the Champions League quarterfinals.
PPQ: What predictions do you have for their season after watching them start?
Jeremy: I think Atleti ultimately just about scrape third place, like last year. I think they are good enough to win the Copa and predict they’ll make a run to the semifinals there (once they realize it’s their best shot at silverware). In the Champions League, it’ll depend on the draws, but I think they will bow out in the quarterfinals again.
PPQ: Anything else you’d like to share?
Make sure to keep up with all the latest around Atlético on www.intothecalderon.com! We have two podcasts and update almost every day with rumors, club news, and opinion columns. Our coverage is unmatched in the English language.
Thanks, Jeremy and Into The Calderon!
Do you have any Atlético Madrid players currently on your UCL Fantasy team? Champion’s League will be back after the break with three match-weeks in October!