Atletico Madrid - The new Spanish powerhouse?
Atletico Madrid, or ‘Atleti’ as the club loyal affectionately call it, are the cross city rivals of Spanish giants and 2011-2012 season winners Real Madrid. Often overshadowed by the dominance of Los Blancos, Los Colchoneros (The mattress makers) have mostly been an ‘out of the top 3′ club for majority of their time in the Spanish top flight. Only one league title in the past 17 years pretty much says it all. The club’s finishing off of a season has been a real roller coaster ride.
But ever since the arrival of Quique Flores, Atletico Madrid has seen a major turn in fortunes. Not in terms of the Spanish La Liga, but in the European Elite Second Tier, UEFA Europa League. The team won the Europa Cup in the season 2009-2010 and won the European Super Cup the same year. However, domestic fortunes remained unearthed as Atleti finished 9th and 7th respectively in Quique’s two seasons at the club.
Then came the arrival of whom many might call the messiah or the savior of Atleti fortunes, Diego Simeone. Diego Simeone turned the fortunes of the club, and helped them claim their second UEFA Europa title. Diego also signed the striker who would then go on to be one of Atletico’s main front man, Radamel Falcao. They also went on to win the Super Cup, beating Chelsea 4-1, with a first half hat-trick from Falcao.
Surely the arrival of Simeone should turn Atleti’s fortunes and guide them to their first La Liga title in 17 years? Questions still linger. What’s hampering their progress, is their inability to retain their best players, in my opinion. Diego Forlan, Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero as the most recent example. Athletico’s progress has been hampered by the constant reshuffling and changing of the squads due to outgoing players which makes it tough for the manager to strike a balance. Just when Simeone has seemed to have the right balance, speculations arise of a possible transfer of prolific striker Radamel Falcao.
If Atletico are to have any chance of winning the title, they must hang on to their current squad, as they have a world class manager, and with the current squad, they’re currently sitting 3 points behind leaders Barcelona and a position above their bitter rivals Real Madrid. Falcao already has 50 goals for the Los Colchoneros, and it’s clear that he is the one who gets the goals for the team. Sure enough, the team boasts a vast ocean of talent, with keeper Sergio Asenjo, Cristian Rodriguez, Raul Garcia, Adrian Lopez and Juanfran Torres. But the stats show Falcao has scored 24 goals out of Athletico’s 53. Almost half. It’s obvious that the size of the void Falcao would leave, is humongous.
So what Atletico need to ensure is the ability to retain all their key players, play on with the same spirit under a fantastic manager, and a fantastic crowd; glory and success is assured to the club.