La Liga

Atletico Madrid: Simeone's men giving Barcelona and Real Madrid reason to beware

The Clasico duo are far from their best at the moment, which could present a golden championship opportunity for Diego Simeone's men

10:19pm on Monday 16th November 2020
Martin Macdonald

Is this Atletico Madrid's time coming around again?

In a league where they are growing stronger and the two established forces, Barcelona and Real Madrid, are growing weaker, there is every chance that it could be.

Lionel Messi crucially stayed at Barcelona but they remain on the edge of very real financial oblivion, whereas Real Madrid continue to look uninspiring under Zinedine Zidane.

Atletico have had a few years in the title wilderness as Diego Simeone rebuilds yet another squad, but there are promising signs this year, domestically at least.

So, how have things panned out on both the league and European fronts so far?

Atletico Madrid: The season so far

With the likes of Joao Felix and now Luis Suarez as their attacking focal point, Atletico have changed their style of play slightly this season to adapt to the strengths of that pair up top.

While in the past the likes of Diego Costa, who is still there of course, could battle away to win more direct balls, the play recently has been more patient and thought out.

In the Champions League, that hasn't worked out exceedingly well so far, as in their opening match they were humbled 4-0 by Bayern. A win against RB Salzburg and a draw against Lokomotiv Moscow later, the find themselves without a sure route of qualification. They'll need to improve.

Atletico summer moves in

InFromReported fee
Alvaro MorataChelsea£32m
Yannick CarrascoDL Pro£24m
Geoffrey KondogbiaValencia£14m
Ivo GrbicNK Lokomotiva£3m
Luis SuarezBarcelonaFREE
Lucas TorreiraArsenalLOAN

Atletico summer moves out

OutToReported fee
Thomas ParteyArsenal£45m
Alvaro MorataJuventusLOAN (£9m)
Caio HenriqueMonaco£7m
Nikola KalinicVerona£1.6m

Things are an entirely different story on the domestic front, as Atletico are currently third in La Liga, unbeaten in their opening seven games. They are three points off the top spot, but have two games in hand over current leaders, Real Sociedad.

Remarkably, Simeone's charges have only conceded two goals in those seven games which is by far the best defensive record in the league.

Crucially, though, they have started firing at the opposite end of the pitch - something which was a real struggle last season. They have scored 17 goals, which is only bettered by Real Sociedad.

They started the season off with a superb 6-1 thrashing of Granada, only two draw the next two games 0-0, drawing a blank in the process.

However, since then they have found their feet consistently in the final third, winning four in a row.

However, the biggest test so far for Los Colchoneros will take place this weekend when they take on Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Then, we'll discover their true title credentials.

Atletico Madrid: Grade B

That loss against Bayern in the Champions League was a worrying won, no more so because it was rather easy for the Germany side to cut open Simeone's defence - something which will have been a real cause for concern for the Argentine.

But, they actually look the best equipped side to win the league in Spain at the moment.

The genius of Suarez and the growing confidence of Felix make them a force up top, and that combined with the consistent excellent of the likes of Koke and Saul Niguez, plus a very mean defence, and all the ingredients as there for them to overcome the Clasico duo.

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