When Diego Godin headed Atletico Madrid level at the Camp Nou on the final day of the 2013/14 season, it led to one of the greatest shocks of the past decade. Under Diego Simeone, Atletico had made great strides, but until that season no-one took them seriously as title contenders. It took them winning the league for everyone to take notice.
If it was a near-impossible task winning the title, it was an even greater task for Simeone to replicate his team's heroics the following season. Atletico had a solid, if unspectacular 2014/15 campaign, but the fickle beast that is modern football meant that many cast their title victory as a fluke. Luckily for Atletico supporters, Simeone is a man who thrives on proving people wrong, something he is doing once again this season. Despite selling star players, Atletico Madrid top La Liga.
Atletico look a better team than in 2014
Many Atletico supporters could have been forgiven for believing that the 2013/14 season was as good as it was ever going to get for their club, but remarkably, they look an even stronger outfit this season.
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The team doesn't seem as high in quality on paper, but on the pitch they are producing ruthless counter attacking football. The defence is as stingy as ever - only Barcelona and Benfica have managed to score more than once in the same game against them.
Going forward they are heavily reliant on Antoine Griezmann - if the French international were to get injured then El Atleti would struggle for goals. Radamel Falcao has been linked with a return to the Vicente Calderon, but would that be seen as a step backwards? After all, Fernando Torres' two goals on his return have hardly set La Liga alight.
If Atletico can solve their striking problem - which is a minor problem at that - they have a real chance of winning a major trophy this season.
La Liga stronger this season
It's just as well that Atletico Madrid look stronger this year than their title winning campaign, because Barcelona and Real Madrid also look like a more complete outfit - Barcelona especially. When Atletico won the league two seasons ago, Barca were going through a mini demise; Tata Martino was struggling to win the respect of the players and it resulted in sub-par performances.
This season sees a vast improvement. Barcelona are on a wave of confidence after winning the treble last season and they have two of the three Ballon d'Or nominees in their three-pronged attack. After playing in the Club World Cup, tiredness looks to be the major obstacle stopping Barcelona from enjoying another dominant season.
Should the Barca players start to feel the effects of an arduous season, one thing will remain certain - Simeone will be right there to capitalise on any weakness. The Catalan giants know all too well that Atletico will push them to the wire in what could be one of the greatest title races yet.
Can Atletico beat Barcelona to the league title? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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