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Simeone ends 'Zidane effect'

Atlético won the derby the Atleti way. Rocky football, rope-a-dope, rough and unpolished, amassing players at the back, avoiding mistakes (although there were one or two), and trying to capitalize on the errors of the opposition. They won in their own inimical style, 0-1 with Griezmann grabbing the goal. If two roads diverge in a rojiblanco wood, then Simeone took the one well-travelled-by; Real crashed and fell asunder against the same tactics, the same intensity, the same gameplan. Los blancos missed Marcelo, who often opens up games like these, but the real problem was that the artists of the company went missing: Cristiano, Benzema, James, Isco; unable to scale the wall that El Cholo built, second-best in every attack.

Zidane searched for a solution in the cantera. Borja Mayoral came on for Benzema, who might resent that change; then James was whistled and booed off, making way for Lucas Vazquez. Later, Isco was whistled and booed a little less than James as Jesé came on with something to prove, as he generally does. Borja Mayoral created a few problems in the Atleti defence, but Madrid lacked the tempo and intensity to find that extra level, even when Atleti, who had played on Wednesday, visibly began to tire. Real can only complain of one possible penalty shout on Danilo and a couple of missed chances by Cristiano, but they cannot claim that they were better than Atlético, Oblak did not have to work harder than Keylor.

Club president Florentino heard the chants rattle around the stadium again: "Florentino out", the game coincided with his resignation 10 years ago after a defeat against Mallorca. In the three years of his absence, Real Madrid won La Liga twice against Messi's Barcelona, it's important to note. He returned to much acclaim, like Ferdinand VII, the carefully orchestrated fanfare promising a new day. It has become clear that he didn't learn a thing in his three-year sabbatical. The 'Zidane effect' has deflated; and while there is still a bullet, as Valdano would say, as big as a canon - the team is just six matches from the Champions League - but seeing what we've seen, it's very difficult to believe.