Following the majestic victory over archrivals Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, the portents for Atletico Madrid this season are very bright.
The uncertainty over key players, coupled with the transfer ban and the move to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano meant that the team had a very bad start to last season.
This saw the team eliminated from the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and a points gap that became too big to close on eventual league winners Barcelona. The team recovered eventually and finished second in the league and they also won the Europa League.
This summer has been markedly different. Key men Antoine Griezmann, Lucas Hernandez, Jose Gimenez, and Juanfran have been given new contracts while of the older stalwarts; Gabi and Fernando Torres have been moved on.
The transfer business has been top notch with a £111.15m worth of talent switching base to the Metropolitano. AS Monaco’s winger Thomas Lemar was the standout signing at £63m while former Cantera product Rodri was brought in for £18m from Villarreal to fill the hole left by the departed Gabi.
#5 Oblak, Adan and the quality in goal
Slovakian international Jan Oblak is undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers in world football and will be the undoubted starter for the side going into the new season. Despite constant rumours linking the 25-year-old with moves away from the club, Atleti have stood firm and resisted all entreaties for his service.
It is expected that he will be the latest player to commit himself to a long-term future at the club as Diego Simeone has made it a priority.
An excellent shot-stopper who commands his defence efficiently and is able to initiate counter attacks with his long kicks and throws, Oblak’s performances have been a key reason why the side has had the best defensive record in La Liga for the past couple of seasons.
New signing Antonio Adan (a €1m buy from Real Betis) will be back up for the Slovenian following the loaning of Axel Werner to Huesca. A former Real Madrid player, Adan was central to Real Betis’ barnstorming run to Europa League qualification last season.