This was supposed to be the season where Atletico Madrid made their statement. A La Liga title was the objective. Quality players had been brought in, no less in Felix who cost over 120m euros, and Diego Simeone looked upon as one of the best coaches in world football is still at the club.
It was a season where everyone thought Real Madrid are in transition. No matter if Zinedine Zidane is the coach, he left then came back, there is no Ronaldo, and times have changed, except for Real they haven’t and that is why they are currently top of the league. What about the threat of Barcelona? But they were thought to be maybe too long in the tooth, the same old tired midfield, Atletico happy to see Antoine Griezmann sold to them so they could get Felix, and surely from Atletico’s point of view they got the best years out of Griezmann anyway.
Then there is Lionel Messi, but he is 32 going on 33, the thinking from Atletico seemed legit, this was their time, except it wasn’t. As the season draws in they are 13 points behind Real Madrid and 10 behind Barcelona. And it gets worse than that, because they aren’t even in 3rd place, no Getafe currently hold that position, Getafe?, oh poor Atletico what went wrong?
Part of the problem seems to be uncertainty on and off the pitch. Saul Niguez has repeatedly been played out of position with Simeone insisting him to play in defence when he prefers to play in midfield as seen with the Spanish national side. Then there is Simeone’s assistant German ‘Mono’ Burgos who keeps getting linked away from the job- and it must be tempting for him to take on a full time coaches job elsewhere.
Felix as mentioned above is technically brilliant but the problem is his age. He has scored just 2 goals this season, that can almost be accepted if he is creating goals, but he has only been involved in one assist for the money paid that is a very poor return.
One player who has shone is Kieran Trippier who Atletico got from Tottenham. He has looked assured in defence and has made more assists than Felix which says a lot.
The game of course is all about goals and Atletico have scored just 22, that is 30 less than Barcelona and the same as Mallorca who are down in 17th place. The flip side of that is they have conceded 15 but they have won just 9 games from 22 played.
The worry for the club now is can they qualify for next seasons Champions League? Winning it this year will be hard given that they will play the current champions Liverpool in the knockout round. As far as qualifying through their league status they are just 3 points from 4th place so of course it is possible. But form really needs to get picked up as they have no wins in their last 3 games, their latest loss was a body blow too coming against city rivals Real Madrid.
Next weekend the club will play Granada at home, a game they should win but one senses like much of the their season they will somehow make heavy weather of it.
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