Atletico Madrid set for tough defence of La Liga title

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With La Liga making its return in just a few days, Givemesport will be taking a look at all 20 teams, from the title challengers to the new boys and everyone in between.

Kicking things off will be title holders Atletico Madrid, who will be looking to defend their crown.

Last Season
La Liga position: 1st

Atletico did the imponderable and overcame the Real-Madrid-Barcelona duopoly. That coupled with a positive Champions League campaign cemented their position amongst La Liga’s big two.

Despite a limited squad, Atletico were able to challenge on all front thanks to a resolute defence and the goals of Diego Costa.

Sizeable wins against Real Betis and Getafe were pleasing on the eye, but snatching four points off rivals Real Madrid was perhaps one of their most important results.


In: Cristian Ansaldi (loan), Angel Correa, Jesus Gamez, Antoine Griezmann, Raul Jimenez, Mario Mandzukic, Miguel Angel Moya, Jan Oblak, Guilherme Siqueira

Out: Diego Costa, Adrian Lopez, Filipe Luis, Javier Manquillo (loan), Diego Ribas, David Villa

The price of their success was exposure and subsequent poaching of several of their key players. Thibaut Courtois returned to Chelsea after his loan, and was followed by Diego Costa and Filipe Luis.

David Villa, Adrian Lopez and Diego Ribas also left the club, leaving a gaping hole in Atletico’s attack. Diego Simeone faced a difficult task in replacing the obvious talent he has lost, but the way in which he has rebuilt has to be commended.

On paper at least, Atletico look strong. Jan Oblak is a young and competent replacement for Courtois with room to grow. Meanwhile Mario Mandzukic is a proven striker at the highest level and a solid replacement for the outgoing Costa.

Antoinne Griezmann is their marquee signing, and there is little doubt regarding his ability, considering the many years he has already spent playing in Spain. On paper, they look to have strengthened well and somewhat addressed the lack of squad depth.

Key Player: Diego Godin

A strong defence was the cornerstone of Madrid’s title success last season, and this year will be no different. One of the key cogs in that back four, he fulfilled his defensive responsibilities dutifully, and also scored the title-winning goal against Barcelona.

With speculation linking him with Bayern Munich, Atletico will fight tooth and nail to keep him in the side.

One to Watch: Angel Correa

The Copa Libertadores winner moved to Madrid in a €7.5 million deal this summer. The Argentine has been compared to his compatriots Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez and genuinely believed to be a big part of Argentinean football’s future. He looks set to take the place of Diego in the side.


Atletico 1 – 0 CD Numancia
San José Earthquakes 0 – 0 Atletico
América de Mexico 0 – 0 Atletico
Galatasaray 0 – 0 Atletico
Wolfsburg 1 – 5 Atletico
Cadiz CF 0 – 1 Atletico
Atletico 2 – 0 UC Sampdoria

Atletico have enjoyed a relatively successful preseason campaign, remaining unbeaten. They won the Carranza Trophy after wins against both Cadiz and Sampdoria. They managed an emphatic five-goal victory overWolfsburg, after a worrying spell which saw them manage only one goal in four matches.

With many of their World Cup stars gone, and the rest leaving the club permanently, Atletico side featured a number of younger players, perhaps explaining their early pre-season form.


La Liga position: 3rd

Teams such as Real have only added to their squad with key signings without any significant departures. Atletico on the other hand have delved into the transfer market only re-attain the standard they were at last season.

The teams around them have strengthened, while Simeone’s side have more or less remained the same in quality, making a serious challenge a tough ask.

However many would’ve ruled out the prospect of Atletico making a serious title bid last season, so it would be foolish to discount them outright this time around.

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