Could Atletico win La Liga ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona?
Daniel Anwar | 26 July 2018
Simeone’s side will fancy their chances
The odds suggest there’ll be a two-horse race between the usual suspects for the La Liga title this season, but Atletico Madrid will have something to say about that.
Diego Simeone’s side thrive in the underdog role. They’re fiercely committed, incredibly well-organised and have no shortage of quality.
The Coral News Team have looked at why they could upset the odds this season…
Big two may hit a slump
Barcelona finished 14 points clear at the top of the table last term, but they’ve only successfully defended one of their last three titles.
It looks like Luis Suarez may have started to decline, while Andres Iniesta will be a huge miss on and off the pitch. Even with Lionel Messi, they could struggle to hit last season’s heights.
And how will Real Madrid perform without Cristiano Ronaldo? They’ll need to find all those goals he used to provide from somewhere else.
They’ve also got a relatively unproven manager in Julen Lopetegui. He did well with Spain before his controversial exit, but his record at club level is hardly inspiring.
Madrid have an ageing squad and after winning three consecutive Champions League titles, it’s only natural for their motivation to dip slightly.
The likes of Juanfran and Filipe Luis are heading towards the end of their careers now, while Gabi has left for Qatar.
That trio have been vital during Simeone’s time at the club, but Atletico have planned for the future very well.
In Sime Vrsaljko and Lucas Hernandez, they have ready-made replacements for Juanfran and Luis respectively. Both of them played in this summer’s World Cup Final, highlighting their quality.
Gabi’s influence will be missed, but the club are well-stocked with central midfielders. Rodri has arrived to compete with Koke, Saul and Thomas Partey for a starting spot.
The squad did look short of width after Yannick Ferreira Carrasco left in January, which the club have addressed by signing Thomas Lemar and Gelson Martins.
Simeone now has more than a strong starting XI, he has competition for places in every area.
They’ve found the perfect striker (again)
Atletico have always been rock-solid at the back under Simeone. They’ve had the best defensive record in Spain in four of the last five seasons.
Now they’ve got the firepower to beat any side too.
Simeone had been searching for a replacement for Diego Costa ever since the Spain international left for Chelsea in 2014. He got the ideal striker in January – Costa himself.
The Spain international was tailor-made for Simeone’s aggressive, intense style of play. He’s a master at the dark arts of the game, but he’s also a superb goalscorer. His presence creates space for Antoine Griezmann to wreak havoc.
There were encouraging signs of a partnership forming between Costa and Griezmann during the second-half of last season. Having them for the entire campaign could take them all the way to major honours.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing