The Spanish top flight is dominated by its two footballing giants – Real Madrid and Barcelona. The two El Clasico rivals began the current campaign well and found three points in the first matchday.
But a third contender exists as well in Atletico Madrid, and the club are eager to re-claim the title they held just a few short years ago.
Los Rojiblancos captured the 2013-14 league trophy with a magnificent showing throughout the year, as manager Diego Simeone had his side prepared well for each and every fixture.
In order to see the same type of success this term, certain aspects of Atletico will have to be at their very best in order to pose a serious threat to Real Madrid and Barcelona.
We examine three key elements for Los Colchoneros in 2017-18.
Great expectations for Griezmann
For Madrid to compete with La Liga’s best, the club will require their best players to perform at the highest level. That fact is immediately applied to striker Antoine Griezmann, although his first match of the season was not filled with positives.
The French forward let his temper get the better of him in a 2-2 draw at Girona, and the ensuing red card will have him out for this coming weekend.
Rumours of his summer departure were circulated in a major way, with Manchester United being a tipped destination. But Griezmann re-signed with Atletico, and the team will want to see him at his goalscoring best.
He has scored 25 or more goals across all competitions in each of his three seasons in the Spanish capital. That trend must continue in an even stronger way now for Griezmann and for Simeone’s title hopes.
The core of Atletico’s championship run four years ago was their incredible midfield and back-line, who were completely overwhelming for the opposition. That season, the club allowed only 26 goals in 38 league matches.
Gabi and Koke dictate the pace in the middle, while Diego Godin and Filipe Luis are influential in almost all areas of the pitch. Along with outstanding goalkeeper Jan Oblak behind them, Atletico’s determination and organised approach can be quite special.
Real Madrid and Barcelona boast stellar attacks, along with the best footballers on the planet in Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. If Los Rojiblancos can challenge for a title yet again, the club will require a fantastic showing from their hard-working defenders.
Finally, consistency is vital to another La Liga trophy and Atletico must remained focused throughout. However, certain fixtures are of great importance and results in those games will ultimately separate squads at the top of the table.
Madrid’s first big test arrives next month when they host Sevilla on September 24, with a massive encounter against Barcelona on October 15. Their city rivals will visit the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on November 19.
Maximum points on these occasions will go a long way in determining the team’s league finish.
La Liga may see two of the world’s best football clubs lifting the trophy often. But with quality and skill displayed in the right moments, Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone can challenge their power this year.