Atlético get back to what they know and make La Liga a four-horse race | Sid Lowe

Atlético Madrid, despite a number of issues this season, remain unbeaten in the league and still feel like one of the runners who will compete for the title

Quique Setién says he has told Atlético Madrid’s manager Diego Simeone exactly what he thinks of him but Simeone hasn’t told him back. He can guess, though: it doesn’t take a genius. “He might not like what I do, but he has the decency not to say so,” admits the chess-playing, beach football international, former manager of Equatorial Guinea (for one night only) and defender of an aesthetic footballing faith who briefly made Las Palmas the best thing in the league and is now at Real Betis, if maybe not for much longer. “He might go: ‘Bloody hell, this bring-the-ball-out thing, I shit on its mother!’ He’s good enough not to say that, but I’m sure he thinks it.”

So is everyone else, and more than before. Because if Simeone never told Setién, on Sunday afternoon he showed him. Really, really showed him. It was easy to imagine him barely suppressing a smirk, winking his way back to the dressing room at the Benito Villamarín and breaking into a giggle as soon as he got through the door, points won and point made. At the same time as he arrived, midfielder Koke stood pitchside. Talking to the telly, Koke’s opening line couldn’t have been clearer: “Betis were spectacular,” he said. “They played very well, they play very nice football.” Antonio Adán, Betis’s goalkeeper, agreed: “The football we played was incredible,” he insisted, “our opponents were truly dominated.” The problem was, a ‘but’ hung in the air and it was a big one. Dominated? Perhaps, but still not defeated.

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