Guillem Balague not sure Diego Simeone would be the right manager for Manchester United
but admires the way he has maximised Atletico Madrid to their full potential...
Last Updated: 05/05/14 2:38pm
I was just having a look to see when was the last time a situation like this took place two games before the end of the season. In 2006-07, not that long ago, at this point of the season Barcelona and Real Madrid had 72 points and Sevilla had 70 points, so we've been in a similar situation before.
It is so exciting, perhaps because it was unexpected. It's quite clear that Atletico Madrid are maximising their potential and it's always a pleasure to enjoy teams doing that.
But when they find teams like Levante, who play exactly like them, they do struggle. And even though the changes in the second half - and the introduction of Arda Turan, Adrian, with Diego - made the team better, they do struggle when they have to take the initiative.
The proposal of Diego Simeone is wonderful because it is about creating a mentality - a whole group that lives in his idea. But I am not sure he is a manager who can be taken to a big club, say Manchester United, because I think his way of playing benefits more, and helps and works better with a team like Atletico Madrid, who have to fight two giants and where nobody questions the style of football that he has put in practice.
He always uses the same style wherever he has been and I think this 4-4-2 that he mostly uses - having said that, he was using versatile tactics at the weekend - but generally the 4-4-2 that he uses is limited.
He needs 11 warriors and sometimes that affects others with more talent. For instance, that is why Adrian has taken a long time to adapt to this team, so has Diego in his second spell at the club.
The surprising thing about Barcelona is that they gave up in the league - something I've never seen before!
They're all having the conversations you have at the end of the season, Sergio Busquets said: "We have made mistakes that are not to be made by professionals." Xavi said: "We have to start from scratch". Andres Iniesta said: "It would be a miracle to still win it but I don't believe in miracles". Tata Martino said he has to think twice about whether he deserves a second chance; he's not even sure that he does.
That's not the Barcelona we know, the Barcelona that fights until the last minute.
All of a sudden, if it wasn't for Cristiano Ronaldo's goal in the last minute of Real Madrid's 2-2 draw, it would have been in their hands to win the league.
Now it's in Atletico's.
Guillem answers your questions...
Got a question for Guillem? Then send it in using the feedback form below, and then look out for his answer next week...
Atletico are champions if they win their last two. Considering they dropped points this weekend, do you think they have the mental strength to win the league? Are they favourites? Steve
GUILLEM SAYS: Simeone said losing is the best thing that can happen. It will refocus their attention into the last three games of the competition. It will demand even more of them. I don't think there is a problem with mental strength - there is a problem with physique, with a lack of rotation, but they are still favourites to win it in my eyes.
THE FINAL HURDLES
Atletico, Real and Barca all dropped points this weekend. Is this evidence that their small squads are struggling physically or mentally at the end of a difficult season? Thanks, James (Leeds fan)
GUILLEM SAYS: They dropped points at the weekend, partly because their rivals wanted the competition to continue - in the case of Valencia, they didn't want to give up. It was a chance for players to display their abilities on the big stage and also they are playing for their futures because everybody is on a trial at the moment. The club might have a new owner and more money, so they better show they can be part of the new Valencia.
The same with Levante. One particular player, Ruben, said during the week that he wouldn't mind being paid to win and he had to be reminded that is illegal! Certainly there was a lot of motivation at Levante and Getafe were fighting for their lives so the competition is not gone.
And the three teams made life very difficult to the top three in the league. What a season we are having!
What does it mean for Spanish football if neither Real Madrid nor Barcelona win the league? Mike
GUILLEM SAYS: Since 2004 only two teams have won it, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Interestingly enough in the Premier League since 2004 only three teams have won it. So if Atletico Madrid win it this year, since 2004 it will have been three in La Liga and three in the Premier League. It's interesting how competitive the Spanish league is even if some people won't accept that is the case.
DEALING WITH RACISM
Levante's Diop was racially abused a week after Dani Alves. Why do you think racism is more apparent in Spanish football stadiums than in England? Se
GUILLEM SAYS: For things to change in Spain - and they need to change, to improve - we need three things.
One: need to wish to change and I think that, more or less, we are improving on that. We're getting there. Two: strong laws against this kind of behaviour (and the strong laws are in place). And three: strong authorities to put those laws into practice - and that is lacking.
Things are better than 10 years ago. There are still isolated incidents but too many of them. There is a need to educate people and the fact that these incidents are high profile and seen on television everywhere should be used to continue the fight. Nobody hides the incidents under the carpet and the issues are discussed openly.
By the way, the fight against racism is a daily fight and it's a fight everywhere. Don't separate racism problems by frontiers, by barriers, by countries. Just look around and realise this is a fight everywhere for people to respect others. If you look everywhere there is a lot of people not respecting each other.
By pointing out one country, two countries or three countries it is really just diminishing the fight. It takes place everywhere and daily, and it's not a competition. It's not about who has the biggest problem, it's about a problem that has to be solved.
In Spain, it is a problem that still too many people do not take seriously and that has to change. I tend to look at the bright side: we are better than we were, but there is still of work to do.