Five reasons to take Atletico at a terrific 10/1 for La Liga title
Holly Thackeray | January 5, 2016
Five reasons to take Atletico Madrid at majestic 10/1 title price
La Liga may be regarded as the playground for Spanish super clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid but, as several outsiders have shown over the last 16 seasons, it is not always two-way traffic.
Capital club Atletico Madrid were the most recent side to disrupt the big two stranglehold in 2014, and have now positioned themselves superbly two make it two top-flight titles in three terms.
Currently sitting three points pretty at the summit of Spanish football, Coral are offering Diego Simeone’s stars at a tempting 10/1 to pinch La Liga again. Here are five reasons why those odds are excellent value…
Cult of Simeone continues
From scrappy underdogs to a genuine Spanish powerhouse, Atletico continue to play out of their skins for cult hero coach Simeone, whose contained and tidy style of play keeps on bringing the best out of his squad rather than restricting.
Every inch of pitch is covered and, while sometimes the Vicente Calderon may lack the showbiz and sparkle of the Bernabeu, they are reaping rewards of continuity and stability. Despite the extensive effort that comes as a requirement of donning the red and white stripes under this outspoken Argentine, this is no scorched earth policy.
Atletico will rarely be as gung-ho as their rivals but do boast a secret weapon in defence, with just 26 league goals conceded so far, a substantial seven less than their closest competitors at the Camp Nou. Those 11 Liga clean sheets also speak volumes and should translate into crucial points come May.
Hallmarks of champions
From Atleti’s 18 Liga outings so far, 12 have been won by just a one or two goal margin. Far from the flamboyance of their richer rivals, which thrive on flexing their muscles and handing out flashy drubbings, sometimes even into double figures, these Madrid men don’t go out onto the pitch expecting to win; they head out determined to deserve it. Every point earned is precious.
In the last two games alone, Simeone’s guys have pushed to the last, grabbing late winners from the 80th minute onwards, with their steely determination and heroic hits looking suspiciously like hallmarks of a team mentally prepared to be champions again.
Hub of solid South American talent
Barca and Real may like to boast the best Brazilians, attract the most exciting Argentines and Uruguayans, or capture the flavour of the week Colombian.
But, it is Atletico that have a spine of solid South American performers, shaped into an effective unit precisely over the past few seasons, and only disrupted by lurking Premier League clubs looking to plunder.
Simeone is so careful about tweaking his team, with every minor move plotted out and carefully considered over the course of a season, which is something at least city rivals Real will glower at with envy.
From a rock bed of defensive diligence, featuring lynchpin Diego Godin (Uruguay), a returning Filipe Luis (Brazil) and Jose Gimenez (Uruguay) waiting in the wings, to midfield anchors Matias Kranevitter (Argentina) and Augusto Fernandez (Argentina) and still settling forwards Jackson Martinez (Colombia), Angel Correa (Argentina) and Luciano Vietto (Argentina).
The Mattressers’ roster has an unmistakable identity and cohesiveness, with a sprinkling of home-grown Spanish and Basque heroes, linked by similar language and culture, that few in their top-flight can match.
Goal machines with much left in the tank
Speaking of, it is known that it takes time for players to flourish and adapt to Simeone’s system, to start working their socks off as they never knew possible.
With that in mind, and only effervescent France forward Antoine Griezmann featuring for Atleti in the Liga top 10 scorers list with nine, more can be expected in the second half of the season from the Spanish club’s newest sharpshooters. Though, this should be a source of optimism rather than concern, with a host of attacking talent in the ranks still to come good. Already top of La Liga while still with poachers and playmakers far from their peak, the only way is up…
Big summer buy Martinez has hit just three across all competitions so far, but has fired in at least 20 league goals or over in his last three campaigns, meaning there is undoubtedly much more to arrive from this formidable marksman.
While, Atletico support can dream of Sergio Aguero-style development from bargain Argentines Vietto (22) and Correa (20), who are also still finding their feet, but have spades of potent potential to partner each other in attack for seasons to come.
Surprising squad depth means Belgian forward threat Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco has also been making waves at the Vicente Calderon, so the immediate future looks bright for a better goal difference.
Future fixtures at the business end of the season, when Atleti will be aiming to run the gauntlet to trophy triumph, makes this 10/1 price truly tasty.
Atletico finish their league run with a final four winnable wrangles against Malaga, Rayo Vallecano, Levante and Celta Vigo. The latter could well prove a surprise package, but Simeone’s men will face their last toughest challenge on paper in March versus Gary Neville’s Valencia, with noisy neighbours Los Blancos two matchweeks prior to that tussle and a final Barca league battle at the end of January.
Having already picked points from Sevilla, Real and the Bats, Atleti can feel confident of coming away from those potential deciders with at least something, before continuing to focus on grinding wins form their remaining games.