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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Still no goals from open play for Leo Messi

As Barcelona prepare to face Alaves on Saturday evening, after putting in a tremendous performance against Juventus in the Champions League, there’s one stat that really sticks out.

So far in the 2020/21 season, both domestically and in Europe, Lionel Messi has yet to score from open play. Continue reading

On this day: 16 years since Lionel Messi’s Barcelona debut

The date was October 16, 2004, the opponents were Espanyol and it was the 82nd minute.

Lionel Andres Messi was about to make history as the youngest player ever to play for Barcelona’s first-team, at 17 years, three months and 22 days old.

Little did the world know at that time what awaited them. Continue reading

Braithwaite’s Barcelona dream turning into a nightmare

There’s been an awful lot going on at the Camp Nou just lately, with the Lionel Messi situation and the vote of no confidence for president, Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board hogging the headlines.

Everywhere you turn there’s something else for Barca’s long-suffering supporters to get hot under the collar about.

However, there’s one player that’s kept his own counsel. Continue reading

Fantasy La Liga Gameweek 4 Picks

The 2020-21 Spanish La Liga season continues this weekend after a full round of fixtures midweek.

FC Barcelona started the season with a convincing 4-0 thrashing of Villarreal over the weekend and will face Celta Vigo away on Thursday, before hosting Sevilla over the weekend.

Meanwhile. defending champions Real Madrid face a potentially tricky match versus Real Valladolid on Wednesday before travelling to Levante on Sunday.

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

Goalkeeper: Jordi Masip (Real Valladolid)
Real Valladolid welcome Eibar to the Jose Zorrilla Stadium in the first La Liga game of the weekend. Sergio’s side play a defensive game and had the best defensive record in the bottom half last season as a result. Although they’re without a clean sheet in their first three prior to travelling to Real Madrid on Wednesday night, weekend opponents Eibar are really struggling to score so this is an excellent opportunity to Jordi Masip to register a shutout.

Continue reading

Koeman silences the doubters but bigger tests await Barcelona

It was, perhaps, one of the most keenly awaited debuts in La Liga for many a year.

After such a disastrous end to their last campaign, the football family wanted to know how the ‘new’ Barcelona would fare under Ronald Koeman.

It’s fair to say that the team did everything asked of them by their coach, and then some. Continue reading

Messi’s words on Suarez exit show Barcelona scars run deep

It should’ve been a time of reflection and celebration.

A time to look back on the six years that Luis Suarez has been at Barcelona, and remember him for the right reasons.

After all, the Uruguayan marksman leaves the club having become the third highest scorer in their history. 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.

Continue reading

Inter prepare for new Serie A season in style amidst claims Lionel Messi will arrive soon

Serie A kicked off at the weekend though without Inter Milan whose first game will take place this Saturday at home against Fiorentina.

Inter will be one of the favourites to challenge for the title although a few levels above them of course will be Juventus who will be determined to become champions again and win their 10th title in a row.

By next year it would have been 11 years since Inter last won the league when they swooped up not only that but the treble by winning the Coppa Italia and Champions League. Those days are long gone but on the evidence of last season Inter are getting back into challenging for honours under coach Antonio Conte.

In pre-season the club have scored an incredible 19 goals. However there is a catch of sorts given their opponents. With the pandemic hitting back again Inter had no choice but to keep games local and not to travel large distances. Their first match was against Lugano a local team right on the Swiss/Italian border and that match ended 5-0 to Inter. Lautaro Martinez a transfer target for Barcelona scored a brace to help the club on their way and Romelu Lukaku got the final goal.

Inter’s next game was against Carrarese a team who plays in Serie C so the final score shouldn’t have been much of a surprise as Inter ran out 7-0 winners. Lukaku and Martinez each scored a brace in a simple game for the club. Their final pre-season game was against Pisa and it was a repeat score, another 7-0 win with Martinez scoring a hat trick.

The games were too easy for Inter but at the same time it has been a good workout for the players and they needed some game time before they kick off their season proper.

The big news surrounding the club has been reports that Lionel Messi will move to Inter at the end of this season. And it doesn’t seem all tabloid talk either as those words came from ex Inter player and legend Nicola Berti. Berti said that he believes Messi will arrive next year, as Messi will be a free transfer by then and that Inter are a very strong team and can challenge for the league title.

If anything these do look like exciting times for Inter. They have a complete team now that should be able to give Juventus a run for their money. We will know much more where the club are at after this weekend.

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