Atletico Madrid have their best chance of landing the Spanish league title since their last title in 2014. Last season, Diego Simeone’s side finished runners-up and ahead of city rivals Real Madrid for only the second time this century while in Europe, they landed the Europa League title.
Until focusing on their European title, Los Rojiblancos lost just one of their opening 26 matches in La Liga. The blossoming strike partnership between Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann alone was enough to suggest they now have the firepower to once again compete at the very highest level.
But there are plenty more reasons for optimism for Atleti going into the new campaign. They have enjoyed a tremendous transfer window, with incomings including highly-rated forwards Thomas Lemar and Gelson Martins, central midfielder Rodri, full-back Santiago Arias and goalkeeper Antonio Adan. Defender Jonny Castro arrived too, before being loaned out to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
They also have Spain internationals Vitolo and Diego Costa ready to compete in their first full season with the club after they became registered in January, allowing them enough bedding in time and to familiarise themselves with their new surroundings.
And last season the venue was different for everyone at the club following a move from their long-time home of the Vicente Calderon to the glitzy, modern Wanda Metropolitano. Many clubs often endure initial struggles in new, expanded home stadiusm but this was not the case for Atleti, who did not suffer defeat at their stadium for their first 17 league outings.
Last season was one of transition for the club – as they emerged into a new stadium and the other side of a FIFA-imposed transfer ban – but now they have stability. Simeone has once again reiterated he is in it for the long haul and several his players have done the same. The most significant of which is Griezmann, who rejected the advances of Barcelona to commit his long-term future to the club.
In Jan Oblak they have one of the world’s elite goalkeepers, their steely back-line is as well-drilled as any while in midfield, they now have an excellent balance of energy and invention. The attacking threats from wide which Lemar and Martins will represent add an extra dimension to their offensive capabilities, which has been the long-standing concern.
With Real Madrid now without Cristiano Ronaldo and embarking on a season of transition themselves and Barcelona perhaps more wary of channelling their energy into Europe this season, it would be foolish to write off a title for Atletico.
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