Football

Atletico Madrid can fight for La Liga this year

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There's only one way to put it; Diego Simeone performed a miracle in the 2013/14 season.

He led the club to the league title, fighting off the challenges of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, to win their first La Liga title in 18 years. In the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, that's some achievement.

As if that wasn't enough, he also took the team to the UEFA Champions League final against Real and was seconds away from clinching a historic double.

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Atletico changes

There were some real positives last season - Antoine Griezmann's strong goalscoring form and the breakthrough of José María Giménez just two - but ultimately the departures of Diego Costa, Thibaut Courtois and Filipe Luis were just too damaging to sustain title winning form.

They finished the season 16 points behind eventual champions Barcelona. It could be seen as a transitional campaign as they completely overhauled their playing style after losing Costa. Gone were the long balls down the channel, it was all triangles and combinations.

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Promise back

This season however, there's a feeling amongst the Atletico fans that this could be their time once again. Real Madrid have brought in Rafa Benitez to replace Carlo Ancelotti and he is already coming under pressure for his unpopular tactical approach.

Meanwhile at Barcelona there are real concerns that their squad isn't strong enough to maintain title winning form, even with Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal available to play from January onwards.

If Atletico wanted to take advantage, this would be a perfect time to spend some money improving the squad. At the time of writing this article, Atletico have spent just under £100million on some fantastic talent.

Jackson Martinez, Stefan Savic, Luciano Vietto, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Filipe Luís, Bernard Mensah, Matías Kranevitter and Santos Borré have all arrived over the summer.

Looking strong

They've also got some outstanding young players returning from loan spells, or from long-term injury, that can make an impact this season. First and foremost Oliver Torres, an incredibly creative midfielder, returns from a productive loan spell with Porto.

The talented youngster had a good season in Portugal, scoring seven goals and providing six assists in just 26 appearances for the Portuguese giant.

There's also Angel Correa, an incredibly gifted player who joined from San Lorenzo in 2014 for €7.5m. Unfortunately, he was ruled out the for the remainder of the season in June 2014 when, after a routine medical, he was diagnosed with a heart tumour and had surgery a few days later to correct the problem.

I'm delighted to report that Correa has fully recovered from surgery and made his first appearance for Atletico this season, coming off the bench against Las Palmas and producing a wonderful cameo. He's one to watch.

Atletico therefore go into the new season with one of the best managers in world football, two excellent goalkeepers, an incredibly experienced and solid back four, a midfield full of creativity and four genuinely top class goal scorers. Write them off at your peril.

Football fans, can Simeone's Atletico once more tussle with Barcelona and Real Madrid? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.

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