Typical seasons that see Barcelona and Real Madrid fight a head-to-head battle for the La Liga crown have now become a thing of the past thanks to Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone’s tactical masterclass.
Last season, a three point gap separated Atletico Madrid from the eventual league champions, Barcelona, at the top end of the table following an intense title race which ensued up until the final few weeks of the season.
Real Madrid and Barcelona’s unrivalled dominance in the Spanish top flight has all of a sudden been interrupted by an Atletico team with a relatively average outlay in terms of player acquisition when compared with the massive amounts of cash that their counterparts splash in the transfer window.
Atletico’s success has been built around the tactics that manager Diego Simeone has now become quite famous for given that his success has stretched in to European competition as well as domestically in Spain. The current tactical approach adopted by Atletico Madrid is one that demands a lot from the players in regard to their fitness levels and work rate.
Simeone has turned the team into a well-oiled machine capable of taking on any opposition, as witnessed last season when they went up against Bavarian giants, Bayern Munich, and progressed in the Champions League.
The Argentine tactician has been able to find the right balance in his preferred tactical system, managing to balance a combination of intense, deadly attacking surges alongside organised rigidity has helped Atletico become one of Europe’s elite teams.
Going into the new season, they are expected to keep up with Barcelona and Real Madrid in the race for the title, but can they live up to the billing on home soil as well as the Champions League?
Having reached the final of Europe’s elite club competition last season before suffering a disheartening loss on penalties to Zidane’s Real Madrid side, Simeone will be doing all he can to ensure that his players get things right this season.
Atleti crashed out of the La Liga title race in a similar manner to that of the Champions League final, falling right at the last. Let’s have a look at the most important area Atletico need to improve on in a bid to grab some silverware this season.
It’s fair to say that Atletico Madrid’s players are somewhat underutilised on the pitch. The likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona allow their technically gifted players to be creative and try to make things happen on the pitch.
However, at Atletico, it’s all about toiling and working hard with a few pieces of individual skill being executed now and then.
Going forward, Simeone needs to grant more freedom to Atleti’s creative players.
Antoine Griezmann, for example, is much more than a goal poacher, he’s a highly gifted footballer who can create something out of nothing, but can’t effectively bring his creativity into play due to the club’s current system; the same goes for Yannick Carrasco and Saul Niguez who are often shackled to the tactical rigidity.
If Atletico begin to play with more creativity, then they might just muster up that level of pizzazz needed to secure the La Liga title ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona.