Fired up by Diego Simeone: Atletico Madrid the club that won’t go away

The 2010s were amongst the most successful years in Atletico Madrid’s history. A league title success was seen as an exceptional achievement given how strong both Barcelona and Real Madrid were at the time. But Atletico also won the Europa League 3 times and were runners up in the Champions League twice. It has been quite a ride for the club.

So after such an incredible decade and with coach Diego Simeone starting his 10th season in charge of the La Liga team you would have been forgiven for thinking that Atletico were not up to spec.

But Atletico are not a team that have good moments and wield that thorn into the sides of Barcelona and Real Madrid temporarily. No Atletico are here to stay. They sell Antoine Griezmann no problem they bring in Joao Felix. Diego Godin veteran swashbuckler moves on, no problem in comes the underrated Kieran Trippier from the Premier League. They move stadium, no problem, they won’t suffer the Arsenal syndrome anytime soon. Atletico do what they do best and that is continue to compete and move on.

This season the club has taken advantage of Barcelona’s many off the field problems that almost saw Lionel Messi leave the club. In fact in being 2nd and Barcelona being out of the top 10 the clubs have changed places from the beginning of  last season. Atletico know the real threat is from their city neighbours Real Madrid but they will also be respecting how Real Sociedad have started the season.

With Atletico though they look the real deal this season to go on and win the title. You want goals, well Atletico have 18 of them and only Real Sociedad in 1st position have scored more with 21.

One of the revelations in terms of attack for the club has been Joao Felix. True we knew that last season when the club signed him he was something special but Felix didn’t get a good run of games and would need time to adjust to his new surroundings. It wasn’t the mind blowing debut season that many expected. This season could be it though. Felix has already scored 5 goals and assisted twice and there will be plenty more to come from him.

But a lot of credit also needs to go to Luis Suarez, the surprise signing in the summer who was let go by Barcelona. While it may be easy to laugh at Barcelona’s decision Suarez had lost something in the past 18 months. It felt like he was a few yards slower, but the truth is he needed change, now he is thriving under a coach that has been part of the set up for 10 years and Atletico are seeing the results. Suarez has scored 5 goals also like Felix.

But let’s talk about what is happening in defence. It is rare that an English player goes abroad and does really well but Trippier is carving out a name for himself and the fans love him. The former Tottenham player has been part of a mean defence that has conceded only 2 goals so far this season from 8 games played. One at home and one away and that is simply remarkable.

Trippier has the most clean sheets in the team with six. Another player who has impressed at the back is Mario Hermoso. His value is just 5m and he has helped keep five clean sheets.Of course it also helps when you have one of Europe’s best goalkeepers and in Jan Oblak Atletico sure do have that. Oblak has 42 points already and has six clean sheets.

Presently six of the top 10 players in La Liga in the fantasy rankings play for Atletico Madrid. They are all inspired and fired up by the pure energy, passion and intelligence of Simeone, who this year celebrated his 50th birthday- how fitting then if the club can indeed go on to win La Liga for the 2nd time in seven years.

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La Liga: Best 11 Players of Week 9

Real Madrid lost 4-1 against Valencia which just keeps the Spanish league more interesting as Real Sociedad won their sixth game of the season to go four points clear of the champions. Sociedad have not lost a game since the end of September.

Barcelona finally played like the Barca of old as they crushed Real Betis 5-2 and even Lionel Messi seemed happy as he scored a couple of goals. And Atletico Madrid have now won 4 games in a row as they crushed in form side Cadiz and they remain in 3rd place.

So with many points up for grabs for the players let’s take a look to see if any of your chosen players made the final cut and the team of the weekend.

Goalkeeper: Jan Oblak- Atletico Madrid 7pts

Jan Oblak is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world and he has already help keep 5 clean sheets this season. He was solid as a rock against Cadiz as they had genuine chances to score although Atletico ran out 4-0 winners in the end.

Defender: Nacho Monreal- Real Sociedad 9pts

Nacho Monreal helped keep a clean sheet and Real Sociedad beat Granada 2-0. Monreal capped off a fantastic weekend by opening the scoring also and Sociedad stay top of the league.

Defender: Sergio Escudero- Sevilla 5pts

Sergio Escudero now has 10pts as he earned another 5 at the weekend as Sevilla came past Osasuna 1-0. Escudero actually started from the bench and played well and held the back line in a game that Sevilla could well have drawn. He is valued at 6m.

Defender: Zaldua- Real Sociedad 5pts

Zaldua put in a good shift but had to be substituted in the 2nd half. But helped Sociedad in defence with some fantastic passes and they kept yet another clean sheet.

Defender: Gimenez- Atletico Madrid 5pts

Gimenez earned all points as Atletico Madrid put paid to Cadiz’s great start. The club kept a clean sheet in a crushing 4-0 win. This was the defender’s first points of the season and he is valued at 7m.

Midfielder: Carlos Soler- Valencia 13pts

What  a memorable weekend it was for Carlos Soler who earned an incredible 13 points as Valencia stunned champions Real Madrid and won the game 4-1. Soler scored a hat trick and all of the goals were penalties. He kept calm for each one as Valencia made a huge statement. Soler now has 19 points overall.

Midfielder: Marcos Llorente- Atletico Madrid 8pts

Another great win for Atletico Madrid as they overcame Cadiz by 4-0. Llorente assisted in the clubs first goal of the game and set up Felix and then scored the 2nd which seemed to deflate the visitors. From there on in there was only going to be one winner.

Midfielder: Fidel Chaves de la Torre- Elche 4pts

Elche drew 1-1 with Celta Vigo and Fidel as the player is known opened the scoring with a penalty. Though the club couldn’t hold on Fidel earned a good 4 points and has been solid this season and has 17 points overall. He may be worth looking into and he is valued at a fantastic bargain of just 3m.

Midfielder: Sergi Roberto- Barcelona 4pts

After their slow start Barcelona players have been missing from players of the weekend. Sergi Roberto saw his side beat Real Betis 5-2 and whilst remaining consistent in midfield he went one better and assisted for Barcelona’s last 2 goals of the game which were highly important and a huge factor in closing out the game.

Striker: Joao Felix- Atletico Madrid 10pts

Joao Felix has been on great form in the last few weeks and the highly promising youngster scored 2 goals including the opening one and assisted in another as he won man of the match as Atletico crushed Cadiz 4-0. Felix now has five goals so far this season.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona 8pts

Lionel Messi is back! He scored 2 goals as Barcelona beat Real Betis 5-2 in their first real performance of the season. Messi now has 10 points and will want to build on this for the rest of the season and get back to the form that everyone knows him for.

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Fantasy La Liga Gameweek 5 Picks

The 2020-21 Spanish La Liga season continues this weekend following the international break with Granada and Sevilla kicking off the action on Saturday lunchtime.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are both in action on the same day, with the champions welcoming Cadiz to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium before Ronald Koeman’s side are also in the capital, away to Getafe.

Hare are our recommendations for your fantasy team this weekend:

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid have kept three clean sheets in their four La Liga games to start the new campaign and are widely-expected to add another one versus Cadiz this weekend. Thibaut Courtois himself has been in fine form to start the new campaign.

Continue reading

Fantasy La Liga Gameweek 3 Picks

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid kick off their 2020-21 La Liga campaigns on Sunday whilst Real Madrid will be looking to improve on their 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad when they travel to Real Betis on Saturday night.

Real Betis and Granada are the only two sides to have taken six points so far this season but nearly half of the league have yet to play twice.

Here are this weekend’s picks for your fantasy team:

Goalkeeper: David Soria (Getafe)
Getafe are away to struggling Deportivo Alaves in the opening fixture of the Spanish weekend. David Soria kept a clean sheet in his first game of the season whilst this weekend’s hosts have scored just once in 180 minutes.

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What has gone wrong for Atletico Madrid this season?

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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A preview of gameweek 5 in LaLiga

Football, football, football.

Here is our preview of all ten games in LaLiga this coming weekend.

Osasuna v Real Betis

Key men: Roberto Torres (Osasuna); Nabil Fekir (Real Betis)

Prediction: Osasuna 1 – 1 Real Betis Continue reading

Atletico Madrid has its best chance at a LaLiga title in six years

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. Continue reading

Preview of all this weekend’s LaLiga action

There were some shocks in the opening round of games of the LaLiga season.

Athletic Bilbao scored a late winner to take all three points from league champions Barcelona. A night Antoine Griezmann and co will look to forget as soon as they can.

Real Madrid looked solid in their 3-1 win at Celta Vigo, even without Eden Hazard. Karim Benzema certainly hit the ground running for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Atletico Madrid and Sevilla both started with three points from their games while Villarreal and Granada played out an enthralling 4-4 draw at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

This weekend, LaLiga again has games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Continue reading

Why won’t Atletico Madrid let Griezmann join Barcelona?

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It was supposed to be easy. Atletico Madrid would sign Joao Felix and for the fee they paid they would recoup it back with the sale of long serving player Antoine Griezmann, except and to Griezmann’s surprise that isn’t quite happening.

Felix has arrived but Griezmann who was expected to join Barcelona is still with Atletico and the next part of the story sounds jarring. Griezmann failed to turn up for training for a recent session and the club have now fined him the maximum fine of 200,000 euros for doing so. Sure you can’t miss training but at the same time it was Griezmann who helped his club out last season by staying with them when he wanted to leave for Barcelona. He stayed out of loyalty after Atletico were handed a transfer ban and couldn’t buy any players to replace Griezmann.

Now with this situation it feels as if Griezmann’s career with Atletico one that has been brilliant could well end up turning sour. Surely no one at the club wants that, and what Atletico are doing is quite wrong.

So why have Barcelona been taking their time in buying him? The truth is that they couldn’t make a move until after July 1st because Griezmann’s contract buy out clause before then was set at the ludicrous price of 200m euros. But after July 1st because of his contract that asking price fell to 120m euros.

The next process was supposed to be easy and that was Barcelona coming in for Griezmann, except one week has gone by and there has been no contact from them. Because of this Atletico have acted on Griezmann who in his head is a Barca player and that is where the fine comes from.

This makes sense but at the same time the loyalty that the Frenchman has shown the club has to count for something, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

So will Barcelona come in for him? They should do but the delay is puzzling, perhaps they are thinking to delay the transfer and try and get a better deal in the region of 100m and not 120m, that could well be the thinking. As for Griezmann he will be livid with his current club and annoyed with possibly his new one for dragging this situation through the mud. He should be in theory sporting a Barca shirt right now, instead Griezmann is finding himself in football limbo with 200k less in the bank as a result.

 

Atletico Madrid break transfer record with signing of Joao Felix as Griezmann looks set to join Barcelona

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Move over Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix the latest Portuguese sensation has arrived, and arrived he has with a thud of epic monetary proportions. Atletico Madrid made Europe look at them in awe when they announced his signing this week for a cool £113m, making Felix who is just 19, the 5th most expensive player in football history.

Felix looks the part and what little we have seen of him looks quite incredible. For Benfica last season he greatly helped them win the league and from 26 league games he scored 15 times. Overall he played 43 matches and netted 20 times, and for a player to be performing like that at his age suggests that Madrid have spent well.

As for Diego Simeone’s side Felix represents their biggest spending ever on a player and they have come to an agreement with Benfica to pay them 30m in one payment with the rest of the transfer fee coming from instalments. But why have Atletico bought Felix for so much?

Well to put it simply Felix is really being ranked up there with the likes of other Portuguese players who have graced the game in Luis Figo and of course Cristiano Ronaldo, if Felix is as good as he is obviously going to improve Atletico and his sell on price could be fantasy numbers, that will be the long term plan for Atletico anyway as they try and break Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance in La Liga.

The other reason to spend so big is that it has been reported that after years of playing with Atletico that Antoine Griezmann is finally leaving the club to join Barcelona for a similar fee that Atletico paid Benfica for Felix, it all rather makes sense then.

Though Griezmann choosing Barcelona is up for debate, wasn’t this the same club who came in for the French World Cup winner last summer only for Griezmann to reject them on the grounds that he didn’t want to be Lionel Messi’s ‘lieutenant’? Of course Griezmann really should have just left it at the core reason for him not joining which was down to loyalty of his club who were, at the time, currently going through a transfer ban.

Back to Felix and not only can he score goals he can create them too and Atletico’s fans look like they will be in for quite a treat. Atletico are also in the Champions League, and the fact that they still have Simeone in the dug out is testament to the clubs owners, who still find the best ways to attract quality players despite the hardships they find themselves each season in Spain. Roll on next season when Felix will do his best to light up the league, and take some of that magic away from Messi.

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