Spanish benches are hot chairs. In the 20 days that march in January, Gaizka Garitano (Athletic), Míchel (Huesca) and Pablo Machín (Alavés) have been removed from their respective positions and have joined Oscar (Celtic) for a total of four teams that have already changed their projects before reaching the middle of the course.
If having continuity is increasingly complicated, the duel between Eibar and Atlético has been facing the same protagonists on their benches for more than five years: José Luis Mendilibar vs. Diego Pablo Simeone. Since the arrival of the Zaldibar coach to the gunsmith club in June 2015, his matches against Cholo have become a true LaLiga classic. Twelve games with clear Atletico dominance, with eight wins, three draws and a single defeat, but that has been balanced over the years.
Last season Eibar won 2-0 in Ipurua in a match where he proposed a very high rhythm that caught the rojiblancos by surprise. In the last five meetings, Mendilibar has managed to put Simeone in trouble, with two athletic triumphs, two draws and the Eibar victory. Previously, they had already seen each other three times when the current Eibar coach directed Osasuna. A total of 15 matches that make Mendilibar the second coach Simeone has faced the most, only surpassed by the 17 games against Ernesto Valverde (between Valencia, Athletic and Barcelona) that, if everything goes according to logic, this course will be equaled.
The same 15 encounters in which Cholo had been tested against Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid and Bayern) and that with tomorrow’s duel (9:00 p.m.) they will break the tie. Simeone, with more than nine years in a row on the Atlético bench, is the clear exception in the usual trend. Nail and meat with the club, since his arrival in December 2011 he has directed 503 matches and has raised seven titles: LaLiga (2013-14), one Copa del Rey (2013), two Europa League (2012 and 2018), two European Super Cups (2012 and 2018) and one Spanish Super Cup (2014). The full reinvention in their approaches, Simeone and Atlético are already negotiating the extension of their contract, which ends in 2022, until the year 2024.