Atletico Madrid well and truly fell back down to earth last season following their title-topping year in 2014.
Diego Simeone lost many key players before the start of the last campaign, including: Diego Costa, Filipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois. Yet Atletico’s replacements failed to replicate their title winning form and were simply outgunned last year.
Under Simeone you can expect his teams to be well organised in defence and in midfield, but they lacked real pace up front, which has swiftly been corrected.
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Perhaps out of all the La Liga clubs, Atletico has probably done the business in the league.
Mario Mandzukic failed to impress during his time at the Vicente Calderon and simply lacked the pace to act as an outlet for his team, while his strike partner Antoine Griezmann really excelled in his debut season, which attracted interest from some European clubs. The France international started the year on the left wing but finished as the clubs top scorer playing as a striker.
The big Croatian striker left to Juventus and Simeone quickly replaced him with Porto’s Jackson Martinez for €35million. Joining Martinez will be Luciano Vietto from Villarreal. The Argentinian striker really shone in his debut season with 20 goals. Vietto was one of the stars of the league last season with his blistering pace and lethal finishing. Simeone is well aware of his attributes having coached the player while they were both at Racing Club.
Perhaps the exit of Arda Turan to Barcelona will mean Atletico could lack some creativity in the final third, so Simeone will hope his new signings gel quickly.
Another departure that may worry Atletico fans is the departure of Miranda to Inter Milan, but if they allow the impressive Jose Gimenez to develop under Diego Godin, they could have a formidable partnership next season. Yet, they could be defensively short if pushed this year.
However, the return of Filipe Luis will be a welcome one, especially as they were weak in that position last season.
What to expect from Atletico Madrid this season
Following their impressive buys in the transfer market, Atletico have to be considered serious title contenders.
Under Simeone you can predict that once again they will be well organised and structured in defence. They will of course be difficult to beat once again this season.
With Koke pulling the strings in midfield and supplying the ammunition to their new front line, it could be a very entertaining season for Atletico supporters. The Spaniard has been likened as a natural successor to Xavi, but Koke can work better without the ball and is better in the tackle. If Koke performs well then surely he can push the Colchonero to the title.
Jackson will surely be a crowd favourite and has many similarities to former striker Diego Costa. The Colombian can hold up the ball, score with both feet and is good in the air. He’ll certainly give defenders nightmares this year.
If Simeone’s new signings can adjust quickly to his playing style then they can well and truly challenge the traditional two once again.
With players such as Griezmann, Vietto and Martinez, they could be a very exciting team to watch this year, as well as giving them a different edge than what they had last season.
Atletico could certainly enjoy a good cup run, as well as pushing Barcelona all the way in the league.
Verdict: Winner Spanish Cup, 2nd La Liga and quarter-finals in Champions League
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