Atletico Madrid finally on the road to salvaging their season

The picture was bleak for Atletico Madrid as they returned to action after a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus shutdown. Diego Simeone’s side had endured a difficult campaign and faced an uphill battle to just finish in La Liga’s top four, securing their place in next season’s Champions League.

Now, though, things look a lot better. Atletico Madrid have found a vein of form, winning four of the five games they have played since La Liga’s return to lift themselves up to third place in the table. With the end of the season now coming into sight it appears the capital club will once again have a seat at the top table of the European game next season.

A few tweaks from Simeone have contributed to this change in fortune. Of course, the faltering form of those around Atletico Madrid has helped, with Real Sociedad and Getafe in particular struggling to pick up where they off in March, but the Argentine coach deserves credit for the changes he has made.

One major tweak has seen Marcos Llorente been converted into something of an attacker. Signed from Real Madrid last season, Llorente was initially used as a holding midfielder. His performance at Anfield, scoring twice to knock Liverpool out of the Champions League at the last 16 stage, seemingly opened Simeone’s mind to his attacking capabilities.

Llorente has been pushed higher up the pitch and has given Atletico Madrid a creative presence that they were previously lacking in the final third. His new role has added a new dimension to Simeone’s side, opening up space around the edge of the opposition box and in the penalty area. Atleti are a better balanced side now than they were at any other stage of the season.

Diego Costa has also found some form having had three full months to rest up, while Atletico Madrid’s defence is doing a better job of defending set pieces, giving Simeone a bedrock to build his team upon. All of a sudden, there is a structure and form to Atletico Madrid’s play again. They are a team unit again.

Of course, even if Atletico Madrid finish in the top four, this season cannot be considered a success. They targeted silverware before the start of the 2019/20 campaign. But they are finally on the road to salvaging something and giving themselves a platform again.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Has Diego Simeone finally figured out how and where to use Marcos Llorente?

It could be that Atletico Madrid’s 5-0 win over Osasuna earlier in the week is looked back upon as a turning point in the career of Marcos Llorente. Lured from Real Madrid last summer, the addition of Llorente was deemed as quite a coup for Atleti. Llorente is a talented young midfielder who many see as one of Spanish football’s best hopes for the future.

And yet Diego Simeone didn’t seem to know what to do with the 25-year-old for the first two thirds of the season. Competition is currently stiff for midfield places in the Atletico Madrid squad and Llorente soon found himself down the pecking order behind the likes of Koke, Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey.

Something has changed, though. Simeone had some time to think about Llorente’s role in the Atleti team over the coronavirus shutdown and has subsequently deployed in a new position in the last two games. Used as more of an attacker than a midfielder, Llorente drove Atletico Madrid to two very important wins in back-to-back games.

Introduced off the bench for the final 30 minutes against Osasuna, Llorente scored and contributed two assists in a 5-0 win that represented Atletico Madrid’s best performance of the Liga season so far. And the 25-year-old followed it up with an impressive display in a win over Real Valladolid days later.

It would appear that Simeone has unlocked Llorente’s inherent creativity and invention by moving him higher up the pitch. While he has been previously used as a number six and a number eight, it’s as something closer to a number 10 that Llorente has finally found his place in the Atletico Madrid team.

This conversion could be a game-changer for Atletico Madrid as they attempt to rescue a difficult season. This season was always going to be one of transition for the capital club, with Simeone more than once referencing his desire to change Atleti’s style of play and identity as a whole.

Saturday’s win over Real Valladolid lifted them up to third place over Sevilla, significantly boosting their chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League when just a few matches ago they had a lot of work to do. And if Atletico Madrid are to take their seat at European club football’s top table again it will be Llorente who has helped them do so.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Marcos Llorente to Atletico Madrid: Real Madrid’s mistake?

llorente

Atletico Madrid are closing in on the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Marcos Llorente. Whilst the deal – which is said to be valued in the region of €40m – will theoretically benefit both clubs and the player, it is demonstrative of a further weakening of the relations between the two.

Llorente has never been a regular in Madrid’s starting line-up and previous reports have claimed that both Manchester United and Arsenal are interested in a deal. The central midfielder had been in line for a January loan move to Basque club Alaves but this was scrapped due to his high level of performances, but after a promising run of form he suffered an injury setback. Continue reading

Atletico Madrid show transfer intent before 2019-20 campaign

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid are wasting little time in preparing for the 2019-20 La Liga season, with Diego Simeone already active in the transfer market.

The Argentinian boss reaffirmed his commitment to the club at the end of the season, despite the departures of key players and the reported lack of financial backing from the board.

However, the former Inter Milan midfielder has responded with his usual mix of pragmatism and tactical nous to quickly address the areas in his side that need strengthening.

Continue reading

Zidane pushing for Real Madrid summer clear out

gareth-bale-retrouve-zinedine-zidane_249728(1)

Zinedine Zidane will push ahead with plans for a squad overhaul this summer, as he pledges to challenge Barcelona for the La Liga title in 2019-20.

The Frenchman has been clear in his desire to make changes at the club he led to three Champions League title between 2014 and 2017, and that means moving on some big names from the Santiago Bernabeu.

Club President Florentino Perez will fund certain transfer targets, but Zidane will have to clear out players to fund extra moves.

Continue reading

¿Minutos para los niños blancos?

 llorente theo

En las últimas temporadas, el Real Madrid ha adoptado la política de fichar a futbolistas jóvenes llenos de talento y proyección. De momento no le está yendo mal. Estos jugadores saben aprovechar muy bien sus minutos y acaban siendo un revulsivo sobre el césped; sin embargo, no juegan todo lo que les gustaría.

Con la llegada de nuevas promesas al primer equipo, más las que ya estaban y las que podrían unirse, Zidane vuelve a tener otro bendito problema. Sus futbolistas tienen números de titulares, pero la alta competencia se lo pone complicado. Y no solo por los titulares, sino por los supuestos relevos.

Theo Hernández
El lateral de 19 años es una de las apuestas fuertes del club merengue. Viene para dar descanso a Marcelo, y aunque no sea nada fácil, tratará de quitarle el puesto al brasileño.

Marcos Llorente
Tras su cesión en el Alavés y su gran Eurocopa con la sub-21, el centrocampista de 22 años ha demostrado que tiene nivel para jugar en Primera División. No tendrá fácil hacerse con un hueco en el once titular, pero está claro que será un alivio para restar minutos a Modric o a Kroos.

Mayoral
Con 20 años y tras su paso por Alemania, viene para ser el recambio ofensivo de Mariano (que acaba de marcharse a Marsella). Jugará poco, y no solo porque la BBC parezca intocable, sino porque Isco y Asensio también quieren un hueco y cuentan con mejores números.

Vallejo
El central de 20 años ha cuajado una buena temporada cedido en Alemania y ha realizado un gran campeonato sub-21. La marcha de Pepe le ha abierto las puertas del Madrid, pero tendrá que lidiar con Ramos y Varane, además del polivalente Nacho, que ha respondido muy bien siempre que ha tenido minutos.

Fácil no será, pero sí que les supone todo un reto y un paso ineludible para triunfar en un gran equipo.