Spanish champions, European cup finalists and one of the coolest clubs in the world.
On the heels of a phenomenal season by Diego Simeone’s side, punctuated with a 1-1 draw against Barcelona last Sunday that secured the club’s first La Liga title since 1995-96, Atletico has become one of the world’s, newest, most popular clubs.
But what caused this explosion? What is it that has caused fans to latch on to this club so passionately?
Sure some of it may be the unrelenting awesomeness that is Diego Simeone, but there is another explanation for the growth of Atletico fans in America.
Over the last few seasons, European soccer has seen a boom in American culture. Although it has long been the world’s most popular sport, it wasn’t until the growth of the internet, along with new television networks, that many American’s became engrossed in soccer.
But, as with anything in modern culture that becomes overly popular, there are bound to be those who loved it in a bygone era, when things were better and less mainstream. These people are known as hipsters.
To be fair, I might be simplifying the idea of the hipster, and will likely receive a lot of flack for it, but the general idea is there. Hipsters perceive themselves as cooler than the rest of us because they do not conform to the same things people in the mainstream adore.
In other words, you won’t find many hipster fans of Manchester United, AC Milan or Real Madrid.
But when it comes to European soccer, there are a specific sect of hipster clubs. Whether it be 2013-14 Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund, managed by uber-hipster Jurgen Klopp, or Serie A side Napoli.
Most of these sides that are associated with hipsters tend to come with some sort of historical success, struggled during the explosion of soccer in the U.S. and have since found a sort of rebirth as a powerful club in Europe despite a lack of excessive funding.
Atletico Madrid fits this description perfectly. After spending 18 years without a trophy, the team has found success under Simeone, claiming a La Liga, Copa del Rey and Europa League championship under him.
There is also the cool factor that the team has. Whether it be the all-black attire Simeone sports for every match, the phenomenal beard of midfielder Arda Turan or the pure talent of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, this club oozes cool.
With a chance at a Champions League title approaching as well, one would think Atletico was poised to become a European powerhouse.
But as with all other hipster sides, money will become a factor. The team is already rumored to be losing star striker Diego Costa, with many other stars tapped to potentially leave Madrid in the offseason.
Fear not Atletico fans though, this has happened many times before.
From Fernando Torres, to Sergio Aguero numerous talented players have left Atletico over the years and still the team found success. Not to mention Radamel Falcao, who was arguably Atletico’s best player in 2012-13, but left the club at the end of last season.
The squad may have a different look in the following seasons than it does today, but it’s hipster status, as well as it’s success, is likely here to stay.