The best coach in the world? How Simeone’s first 100 games at Atletico compares to Guardiola & Mourinho

The Argentine was not too down after last weekend’s loss at Espanyol, which is unsurprising given he’s overseen a remarkable transformation in the Rojiblancos’ fortunes since 2011

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By Daniel Caballero

Given the number of elite coaches currently plying their trade in Europe, trying to decide upon the pick of the bench is nigh on impossible. What is undeniable, though, is that Diego Simeone now warrants comparison with such coaching luminaries as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

Of course, in any conversation about the continent’s finest trainers, it would be remiss of us not to mention Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal boss may have gone eight years without silverware (though that wait could clearly end this season, with the Gunners currently riding high at the top of the Premier League) but his name remains synonymous with good football and coaching excellence.

Simeone is a relative rookie compared to Wenger but his lack of experience has hardly hindered his remarkable transformation of Atletico Madrid since his return to the Spanish capital in December 2011. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Espanyol may have been a disappointing way in which to mark his 100th game in charge of the Rojiblancos but there have already been countless highlights during the Argentine’s short stay at the Vicente Calderon.

Guardiola, of course, won a treble in his first season in charge of Barcelona as he set about moulding a side that some argued was the finest of all time. But then, it was Mourinho who managed to break the Blaugrana‘s stranglehold on La Liga, in 2012. The Portuguese has won domestic titles in four countries, not to mention two Champions Leagues with two different clubs, Porto and Inter. Still, few would bet against Guardiola leading new club Bayern Munich to European glory this season.

              Riding high | Atletico have become a force to be reckoned with under Simeone

Wenger, of course, has never lifted the club game’s premier prize. However, he is responsible for creating ‘The Invincibles’, who went through the 2003-04 Premier League season unbeaten – not to mention playing the most sublime attacking football. That latter point is particularly noteworthy, given Arsenal were renowned for their defensive tactics before the Frenchman’s arrival in north London in 1996. He brought both flair and success to Arsenal.

Simeone has done likewise at the Vicente Calderon, and just as quickly. The former Rojiblancos midfielder took over a club in complete disarray under two years ago. Since then, he has led Atletico to three trophies: the Europa League, a Copa del Rey and a Uefa Super Cup, as well as establishing the club as a credible Liga title rival to Real Madrid and Barcelona.

In total, he has won 64 of his 100 games as Atletico boss. That is an impressive statistic. However, perhaps Simeone’s finest achievement is that he has completely changed Atletico’s mentality. As their successive victories at the Santiago Bernabeu have proven, they no longer have an inferiority complex when it comes to facing city rivals Madrid.

Consequently, the sky is the limit for not only Atletico, but Simeone. He might not be on the same level as Wenger, Mourinho and Guardiola just yet. But after just 100 games with Atletico, he’s clearly getting there. And fast.

Bayern Munich-Viktoria Plzen Preview: Robben hoping to equal goalscoring record against Czechs

Arjen Robben can equal a goalscoring record in Bayern Munich’s Champions League clash against Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday.

The Dutchman has netted in his club’s last five games in the competition, a streak that includes the 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the 2012-13 final at Wembley in May.

Only three players in the history of Europe’s premier club competition have scored in six successive fixtures and Robben will aim to join Marouane Chamakh, Burak Yilmaz and Cristiano Ronaldo in achieving the feat.

The reigning champions will enter their Group D home game against the Czechs as heavy favourites after their superb start to the season.

Bayern top the Bundesliga with seven victories from nine matches and have easily won both of their Champions League fixtures, proving particularly impressive in a 3-1 win at Manchester City earlier this month.

The Bavarian giants have scored in their last 31 games and survived a scare to defeat Mainz 4-1 on Saturday.

Bayern’s 33-match unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga came under threat when Shawn Parker’s goal helped Mainz to the lead at the break.

However, Mario Gotze came on at half-time and helped to change the match, as two goals from Thomas Muller and additional strikes from Robben and Mario Mandzukic carried Pep Guardiola’s side to victory.

Winger Franck Ribery was rested as a precaution, but the Frenchman is likely to be fit for Wednesday’s clash.

“It’s nothing serious. I wanted to play, but the doctor said it was too much of a risk,” the winger said.

Brazil defender Dante was substituted in the win over Mainz with an ankle injury and will be out at least a fortnight. Thiago Alcantara also has an ankle problem and is unavailable together with fellow midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri (hamstring).

Defender Jerome Boateng is suspended following his red card in Manchester and although midfielder Javi Martinez has returned to training following groin surgery, Wednesday’s match will come too soon for him.

Viktoria Plzen sit second in the Czech top flight, six points behind Sparta Prague but undefeated in their 11 league matches this season.

Plzen have lost each of their Champions League fixtures, succumbing to a 3-0 home defeat against Manchester City before CSKA Moscow beat them 3-2 earlier this month.

Centre-back Marian Cisovsky missed both of those defeats due to a calf injury but returned in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sparta Prague.

Cisovsky was the equal top-scorer in Champions League qualification, netting five goals.

David Limbersky, another member of Plzen’s defence, has not played in almost a month due to a thigh injury and is set to miss out again.

Gotze: Guardiola has unbelievable quality

The ex-Borussia Dortmund star has hailed the trainer’s positive influence and added that he’s ready to play wherever he’s needed most

Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Gotze has taken the time to praise “unbelievable” head coach Pep Guardiola and is confident that the Bavarians will only get stronger under the Spaniard.

The Germany international impressed in this weekend’s 4-1 Bundesliga win over Mainz after coming off the bench at half-time and he’s optimistic about his future at the Bavarians.

“It’s obvious Pep Guardiola has unbelievable quality. He’ll help the team and every individual develop. Our aim is to play even better than last year’s Bayern,” Gotze told the official club website.

“My expectations have definitely been met. I wanted a new challenge, to learn new things and a new philosophy, and it’s been very exciting right from the start.”

The forward then went on to stress that he’s happy to play wherever Guardiola needs him most as getting regular first-team action remains his top priority at this point.

“I’m not bothered about my position. I can play as a wide midfielder, an inside forward, a playmaker, or up front. Fortunately, I’m very versatile.

“The only thing that matters to me is to get back to playing for an extended period of time. The more I play, the fitter I’ll become. The playing time I had with Germany in Sweden and now for Bayern against Mainz has done me the world of good.”

Bundesliga Team of the Week: Gotze makes first appearance since Bayern move

Goals picks out the best performers from across Germany, with three Wolfsburg players making the cut this week

The latest round of Bundesliga fixtures saw Bayern Munich, Schalke, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen all win, with the latter’s victory coming in the most controversial fashion. And there were performances across Germany worthy of recognition in Goal‘s Team of the Week.

In goal, we have Diego Benaglio, the first of three Wolfsburg players included this week following their win over Augsburg in Bavaria.

He is joined by team-mate Robin Knoche in defence, who lines up alongside Johannes van den Bergh of Hertha Berlin and Freiburg’s rising star Matthias Ginter.

Sidney Sam, the scorer of Leverkusen’s first goal at Hoffenheim, features on the right wing alongside Tolgay Arslan of Hamburg and another Hertha star in Per Ciljan Skjelbred. The final Wolfsburg player is rising star Maximilian Arnold, while Mario Gotze makes his first appearance after leading Bayern to a 4-1 win over Mainz.

Vaclav Kadlec of Eintracht Frankfurt lines up in attack alongside Orhan Ademi, who was part of the Eintracht Braunschweig team who came within seconds of getting a point from Schalke.

Effenberg slams 'schoolteacher' Guardiola

The German believes the Spaniard has some explaining to do after denying Arjen Robben the chance to take a penalty in favour of Thomas Muller

Stefan Effenberg has hit out at Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola following his decision to deny Arjen Robben the opportunity to take a penalty in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Mainz and hand the ball to Thomas Muller instead.

The Dutchman was ready to step up for his second goal of the afternoon after a foul on Bastian Schweinsteiger, only for Guardiola to get involved on the sidelines and tell Muller to take the spot kick, and the former Germany international feels the Spanish coach has some explaining to do.

“You don’t want to go through something like this in front of 80,000 people,” Effenberg told Sky.

“You have the ball in your hands and are ready to take a spot kick, full of confidence, and then your coach steps up like a schoolteacher telling you to give it to Muller.

“That’s very bitter for any player and a bad situation to be in.

“You have to explain these kinds of decisions as a coach. You’re obliged to do that. You cannot just say: ‘I’m the coach and I make the decisions.'”

Muller converted the spot kick to make it 4-1 and effectively put the match to bed.