Since the arrival of Argentine coach Diego Simeone in December 2011 to Atletico Madrid, the team known for being tough and precise was primarily focused on defense. And when "Cholo" the defense was in doubt with names like Godin (newcomer of Villareal in 2010) Miranda (a newcomer too), Perea, Alvaro Dominguez and Antonio Lopez.
That year the improvement in the last line of defense was remarkable thanks to the new coach. Atletico finished in 5th place and were champions of the Europa League with a superb defensive line and a centerback that began to make a name for himself: Diego Godin.
"The key to the match went through the defense. What Diego (Godin) is doing today is impressive," said the Cholo during the 2012/13 campaign.
A couple of seasons later, at the end of the 2014-2015, Brazilian defender Joao Miranda's aimed to leave for Italy. The big question was: Who will be chosen to replace him?
During the summer of 2015 a lot of names were bandied about but Simeone had his substitute: Uruguayan José Giménez.
José Giménez, 18, was the big bet of the Argentine coach in 2013. Many thought we would go on loan and fight from the outside for a place on the team. But that was not the case. Cholo gave him his debut in September of the same year of his arrival due to the injuries in the Atletico defense. No one believed that a defender at his age could withstand the intensity of Atletico Madrid. On that day the Uruguayan left more than one with their mouth open. Tall, stocky and with good timing, that was the first impression left by JoseMa in his debut.
He started the 2015/16 season and there was no doubt who would be the perfect companion for Godin.
In an interview on the FIFA website Gimenez commented on Godin: "He's like a father on the pitch, an older brother. He's the teacher and I'm the student." Godin responded, "Me the teacher? No. I'm not going to teach him to play football, but I do try to advise him for the better. I see myself in him because I started out very young. So I try to convey my experience to him."
The pair had more regular appearances in the final stages of 2015, with a stellar performance in the derby against Real Madrid which ended 4-0 with a goal from JoseMa. Yes, Gimenez and Diego also chipped in with goals.
In the current campaign the Uruguayans have been key with goals and memorable defensive performances that have allowed Atletico Madrid to be one of the teams with the fewest goals allowed in Europe.
With a few days to go before the final of the UEFA Champions League the duo are in top form much to the delight of Cholo. What can be expected from the pair is to play their heart out so as to give the first Champions League title to the Atletico.
Also in the Copa America Centenario the performance of this pair together with Luis Suarez will be vital for the Charruas in their journey through this competition.
The more matches these two play together could prove that this is the best defensive pairing in South America and Europe and therefore the best in the world.
Miguel Godoy (LaPizarraDelDT) / CONMEBOL.com