Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid team has started its LaLiga campaign in the best possible fashion – three wins from its opening three games.
As such, Atleti is the only team with a 100% record in Spanish football’s top flight after just three games.
Coming up on his 8th year anniversary of being in charge at the club, Simeone will know that what they have achieved in the early stages of 2019/20 is no mean feat.
While Barcelona and Real Madrid have stumbled and stuttered over the early hurdles, Los Rojiblancos have gone about their business in a typical steady fashion.
Atleti’s three wins have all been by a one-goal margin while Jan Oblak – arguably one of the best goalkeepers in world football – has kept two clean sheets already.
You would have been forgiven for not expecting anything special from Atletico Madrid this season. After all, they did have a summer of massive upheaval.
Simeone and co lost a huge mixture of exciting attacking talent along with defensive experience and solidity. Out went Antoine Griezmann, Gelson Martins, Lucas Hernandez, Rodri, Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Juanfran.
There were some incomings too. They did break the club transfer record to bring in 19-year-old Joao Felix from Benfica. Kieran Trippier arrived from Spurs and Marcos Llorente joined from city rivals Real Madrid. Mario Hermoso, Felipe and Renan Lodi arrived to strengthen the backline. Also, in what could prove to be an astute capture – Hector Herrera moved to Atleti on a free transfer from FC Porto.
Simeone led Atletico Madrid to the last of their 10 LaLiga titles in 2014, pipping both Barcelona and Real Madrid to first place by three points. That team was built on a sound defensive setup – conceding just 26 league goals all season, only 10 goals went past Atleti on their home ground.
It would be a surprise if Simeone can get this new-look defence performing to such high levels in its first year together so he will need his front men to be performing, too.
Luckily, Vitolo has been the surprise package so far, chipping in with two goals from three substitute appearances. In attack, new boy Joao Felix has been paired with either Alvaro Morata or Diego Costa so far. However, one would expect Simeone to give Vitolo a starting berth sooner rather than later given his current form.
Once the international break is over, Atleti travel to play Real Sociedad at the San Sebastian on September 14th. You would be a brave person to bet against them at the moment.