He Atlético de Madrid It has consolidated itself in the leadership after clearly beating Sevilla, a direct rival in the fight for the Champions League. With this victory they are four points ahead of the eternal rival, Real Madrid, with two games less. They do not fail. The wards of Simeone They are showing very solid throughout the entire championship, and with one game left until the first round ends, they are already winter champions. Against Sevilla they gave a new lesson in defensive strength and hitting in attack, two fundamental facets to win titles.
“With game by game things like this come,” he said. Simeone at the end of the last meeting. Despite the good moment that the rojiblanco team is going through, the philosophy remains the same, match by match, the one that has always worked for them, the one that made them league champions in 2013-14, the season in which they reached the Champions League final. Cholo is cautious about the favoritism of his own, he does not like to be put that label but the truth is that this team has earned being the main candidate league title.
This Atleti has received many sticks and criticisms, too Simeone, for his game, for his performance in Europe … but they have never stopped believing and the work is starting to pay off. Last year was a year of transition, up to six important players (Griezmann, Lucas, Rodri, Godín, Juanfran and Filipe) left and forced the sports management to renew the squad. There were up to eight new faces in summer (Joao Félix, Llorente, Hermoso, Lodi, Felipe, Trippier, Herrera and Saponjic) who had to adapt to the Cholo style.
Adapting to the Argentine coach’s schemes takes time. Joao Félix barely left loose details of his quality, Llorente woke up from the victory at Anfield and Hermoso hardly participated. Those who best adapted were Felipe, Lodi and Trippier, but this season, with the concepts assimilated, a Athletic much more solid and much stronger in attack. The 7th is beginning to be that player who decides matches, he started very well but now he is not going through his best moment. Hermoso has established himself as a starter, while Llorente has become one of the main offensive weapons of this team. To all of them we must add the arrival of Luis Suárez, who gives a leap in quality to the rojiblanco attack.
System change: three centrals
The change of system has been key in the resurgence of the mattress team. Simeone has left the classic 4-4-2 behind to form with a 3-5-2: three centrals, two wingers, three midfielders and two at the attack point. This training is having a lot of success, and in it Mario Hermoso He has become an indisputable piece with Savic and Giménez. Another culprit for success is Marcos Llorente. The former Real Madrid player woke up his goalscoring version at Anfield and since then he has gone further, to become the undisputed starter this season in the Cholo eleven.
Simeone He has reinvented himself, he has managed to make a solid team at the back and lethal in attack as he likes, and that’s why they are where they are in the standings. He has also managed to recover players such as Lemar, that last summer he was one of the main candidates to be traded. The return of Carrasco It has also given another air to this team. Since he returned, the Belgian is performing at an extraordinary level and that has made him a fixture in the eleven.
Although, without a doubt, the main culprit that Atlético is where it is is its captain, Koke Resurrection. The midfielder has recovered his best level and is making the team play as it had not been seen for a long time. It seemed that without Thomas Partey they would sink, but Koke has put on his overalls both in defense and attack and has made the now Arsenal player forget. The resurrection of the canterano is being key.
The mattress team is knowing how to take advantage of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s setbacks this season to perfection. One of the main reasons why they are holding up so well is the wardrobe background they have in the squad, in addition to the great physical preparation at the hands of Profe Ortega, who was also criticized last year. The competition is such that players like Saul and Joao Felix have been alternates in the last two league games, two players with enormous talent but not having a good time.
Despite this the Athletic they have continued to win –even those games like Getafe and Alavés that previously stuck them– and playing at an exceptional level, they are the second highest scoring team in the entire competition and the one that has conceded the fewest goals (six in total). Scoring a goal for this team costs a world. The defense is largely to blame, although the main culprit for this is Jan Oblak. This year he is not having to appear as much as he did last year, but when he has had to intervene, he has done so with great solvency. It is life insurance.
Cholo’s team was destroyed last year, but once again he has picked up the pieces and rebuilt it as he did when he arrived at the Athletics in December 2011. There are barely seven players left from that team that reached the Champions League final in 2016. It is a completely renewed squad, and Simeone has made them the main favorites for the Santander League title.