Atletico Madrid are on course for a third Champions League final in four years – but this time Diego Godin wants to go one further with a win
After a couple of weeks absence due to injury, Diego Godín is back for Atlético Madrid. And boy, was the center-back missed.
The super stopper sealed his comeback with a set-piece goal vs. Barcelona last weekend but what really will excite Diego Simeone is the leadership qualities and solidity that will return to his side with Godín back in the frame, just in time for the Champions League hotting up.
El Faraón has grown into an indispensable figure in the Atléti dressing room since arriving at the Calderón over six-years-ago. In that time, Godín has experienced some heroic moments in the Rojiblanco shirt with the title-winning header away at Barcelona back in May 2014 being the best of them all. It’s these moments that make him an admired and idolized person by the fans.
His set-piece threat is certainly a great quality to have and even earned Godín the phrase ‘Godín Airlines’, but what, of course, really makes him such a respected player are his qualities as a defender. It’s those qualities that made Villarreal buy Godín from Uruguayan giants Nacional in the summer of 2007. The centre-back arrived on a 5-year-deal and gradually cemented his place into a highly competitive Villarreal side.
At the end of his third season at the club, Diego Godín joined up with his Uruguay teammates to compete for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. La Celeste was one of the surprise teams as they came as far as the semi-finals. Godín was a regular and was subsequently wanted by multiple teams. Atlético Madrid eventually lured Godín away from the east coast of Spain. A €8M transfer saw the Uruguayan move to the club where he soon would fall in love with.
Godín’s first 18 months at Atleti weren’t hugely successful but when in December 2011 Diego Simeone was appointed as the new manager, the tide turned. The animated former Inter Milan and Atlético Madrid player transformed Los Colchoneros into a well-oiled machine and brought success. Both domestically as well as on the international stage Atlético were a force to be reckoned with.
Simeone might sometimes be a bit of a lunatic on the sidelines but there are no question marks about his capabilities as a trainer. Several players have drastically improved under his reign. Godín, for example, has developed into a leader at the back and is now up there as one of the best defenders in world football. Sure, that’s not all down to Simeone but certain aspects of his game have been addressed.
Despite the great achievements Atlético have managed to accomplish with Simeone in charge, there is one big goal still not fulfilled; the Champions League. After being the runner-up to local rivals Real Madrid in both the 2014 and 2016 final, Godín and co are back for their third shot on club football’s biggest showpiece.
Former Atlético Madrid and Uruguay player Diego Fórlan has backed Atlético to go all the way saying “with Griezmann and Godin, Atletico Madrid have the quality to win the Champions League.” A comfortable 2-4 away win vs. Bayer Leverkusen has put Atléti with one step in the quarter-finals and with the La Liga title off the cards, the focus will solely lie on the Champions League.
As Fórlan noted, Diego Godín will be pivotal in Atlético’s pursuit for European success. He leads the backline like no other and gets the team on his back when needed. He’s Simeone’s voice on the pitch. Already a legend at the club, Godín would make himself immortal if he can pop up with another ‘Barcelona-header’ to win Atlético the Champions League for Rojiblancos.