What does it take to win your league during a pandemic? In this documentary, the answer is to tackle one game at a time: partido a partido. What does it mean to win your league during a pandemic? Just as much as winning during a regular season. Maybe a great deal more, because the stakes are so much higher on and off the pitch.
Otra forma de entender la vida – Atletico Madrid’s Title Winning 20/21 Season, is an internally-produced documentary by Atleti Audiovisual Director Javier Jiménez Vaquerizo. Like other insider productions, there is plenty of excellent game footage and interviews with Manager Diego Simeone, players, staff, and fans. The title appears to be their marketing tagline, Another way of living.
Pre-season and the pandemic
The first 15 minutes of the film are refreshingly honest as Simeone and the physios talk about how daunting the situation looked during pre-season in Aug-2020. Because I don’t follow La Liga, I did not understand why they were so concerned about fitness.
In my research, I learned that during the 2019-2020 season, La Liga was shutdown 13 weeks from Mar-13-2020 to Jun-11-2020. On restart, the league scheduled games every day with all final round games played on Jul-19-2020. Because the film and pre-season begins in Aug-2020, the team and staff have had no rest from the prior season, and the world is still in the middle of a pandemic.
They manage to play just one pre-season game, and Simeone tests positive for coronavirus. Looking back, he says it was good it happened then, because otherwise he would have missed several regular season games.
The first part of the film also explains how Luis Suarez was convinced to come to Atletico Madrid. CEO and majority owner Miguel Angel Gil got the idea, and Simeone agreed: Suarez has personality, skill, and he scores. He is used to winning. And he has something to prove. It is very interesting to hear world class coaches talk about their world class players. To me, Diego Simeone is the star of this documentary, and this section was the best part of the film.
The song “Partido a Partido”
One theme of the film is the development of a new song “Partido a Partido” for the club, written by Atleti fans Joaquín Sabina & Leiva. The song is meant to raise the spirits of fans during these terrible times, but it also inspires the players.
At around the 19th minute, the film showcases its fans, acknowledging how important their presence is. At every home game, a 40-year-long fan, Margarita Luengo, normally places a bouquet near the corner flag to honor her dead husband. Instead, a player does it for her, phoning her to make sure the flowers are properly placed.
The rest of the film covers the 38 games of the season, and it is probably terrific for fans who want to relive the ups and downs they experienced from afar, as they were not allowed in the stadium. Since I did not know the club at all, I enjoyed learning that Joao Felix and Hector Herrera were on the roster.
The league championship comes down to the last game of the season, versus Real Valladoid. Although they aren’t allowed inside the Wanda Metropolitano stadium, the fans congregate and cheer outside. The Atleti are down 0-1 at half time, but they come rolling back in the second half, with Suarez scoring the winning goal on a bad back pass by Valladoid. When the game ends, they are Campeones of La Liga.
Even though I am not an Atleti fan, I am touched by what this club, their fans, and their country have endured.
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7