Diego Simeone: the last pharaoh

Posted Saturday, December 30, 2017 by Marca.com

Diego Simeone: the last pharaoh

Africa remained the only continent that Atletico Madrid had not passed through on their rise to the top of football, and now at last Diego Simeone has taken his team to Egypt for a charity game against Al Ahly on Saturday.

For the Arabic side, it is a game of huge importance, as much as a cup final, and their fans are eagerly anticipating the arrival of one of Europe's great teams.

The universal impact of Atletico has been impressive since Simeone's arrival in the dugout, and it will be clear in the Borgh-al-Arab stadium with 86,000 tickets sold.

It may be the second largest stadium in the continent, but tickets sold out well in advance with fans still expected to be paying over the odds in the hunt for last minute tickets.

Diego Simeone: the last pharaoh

Atleti's popularity all over the world can compete with Al Ahly, who have 60 million fans around the globe.

For many of those fans, supporting their side has become like a religion.

Simeone is similar, and his Atleti fans follow him in his sense of belonging, challenge to achieve the impossible and his ambition to keep growing, all factors which have made the club compete at the very highest level.

Al Ahly will be tough competition, with eight African Champions League titles among their 20 international confederative trophies in their cabinet, alongside 39 league titles, 35 cup wins and nine Super Cup victories.

In 2000, they were named the best African club of the 20th Century, and as such few sides on the continent can provide such stern competition for Simeone's men.

The African giants have welcomed Atletico, but they will have a hostile reception on the pitch.

Diego Simeone: the last pharaoh

Of course, the result does not come with any real importance for Atletico, although Simeone's mindset will mean that his team will never take their feet off the gas.

The game will also provide an economic injection for the club, much like their trip to Saudi Arabia which earned them 1 million euros last year.

With the game also being played for charity, namely helping families affected by victims of the country's worst ever terror attack on November 24, it is a suitable occasion for Atletico to visit the continent.

That won't reduce the competitivity of Simeone, even without Diego Costa and Vitolo, who have stayed in Madrid ready for their integration with the group on January 1.

The Copa del Rey will be where that duo will make their first appearances.

For now though, El Cholo has his eyes sight on increasing the club's image around the world with a victory which would crown him as the last pharaoh of Egypt.

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