As far as season openers go, there were some crackers drawn up on the supercomputers around Europe this season! The Premier League saw Arsenal hosting champions Manchester City, Serie A drew Lazio against Napoli and Sampdoria taking on Fiorentina, and La Liga followed suit as well when it decided Valencia would do battle with Atletico Madrid in the first of Monday evening’s fixtures. There will be new faces galore on display as each side looks to get the new season off to a flyer, with last season’s fourth place finishers taking on the runners-up. With fellow title favourites Barcelona and Real Madrid enjoying home games to kick off the campaign, Atletico will be desperate not to lose any ground in these early stages and will take the game to the hosts.
Atleti enjoyed a wonderful transfer window this summer – so much so that Jason Pettigrove named their window the most successful in La Liga this summer on this month’s episode of the Euro Fantasy League Podcast. With new arrivals like Thomas Lemar, Rodri and Nikola Kalinic in the squad Los Rojiblancos have added substantially to their squad strength, without having lost too much in the way of quality. One big exception to that viewpoint is of course Kevin Gameiro, who ended his two year tenure at the Wanda Metropolitano by signing for – guess who – Valencia. The transfer fee involved was reportedly around the €16m mark, and that seems an absolute steal for the France international, despite his 31 years of age.
He is a player of real quality and will surely be a miss at Atletico, and the prospect of making his debut against his former club will surely be a nerve wracking one! The former Sevilla star joins the likes of Michy Batshuayi on loan from Chelsea and Geoffrey Kondogbia of Inter through the arrivals door in Valencia, and so both sides have added some significant depth to their squads as they look to improve on their equally impressive finishes last term. Atletico did themselves a huge service by retaining Antoine Griezmann after the Frenchman had been reportedly set to depart in the summer – and keeping their best players was always going to be top of the priority list.
If Atletico are going to push for the La Liga title this year then they really need to be looking at winning games like this – against opposition capable of pushing them as far as possible. If they can still take the points and go on to their next match against Rayo Vallecano at home with some momentum then they should find themselves right near the top of La Liga once again fairly quickly.
Do you enjoying watching La Liga games and follow it regularly? Prove your knowledge by playing Liga Fantasy!