Strong starts aren’t something new we’re seeing from Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone. Last season they won 11 of the first 13 matches before they hit the brick wall named Real Madrid and later Barcelona, realizing that it’s not really a fair fight on the way to the La Liga title.
But as the era of Simeone rolls on, Atletico find themselves better equipped to handle whatever the Real – Barca duopoly throws at them. The two Super Cup matches, in which a very disciplined Atletico Madrid team did a fantastic job in limiting Barcelona and especially Lionel Messi, were a perfect example of how this year might be different. Atletico didn’t lose, conceding only once, setting things up for a very strong start to the season.
Maybe it’s simply a continuation of last season, which ended with Atletico Madrid beating Real Madrid in the Copa Del Rey 2-1 to win a title and end a very long drought against their rivals, which has gone on for 14 years. They still need to beat Real Madrid in the league, which over and over again seems impossible, but this season probably gives Atletico a fighting chance more than ever before.
Maybe because of Radamel Falcao leaving to Monaco, Atletico are a stronger side. No longer relying on the talents of just one player, and more on a fighting and aggressive unit that has won its first six matches, led by Diego Costa, who seems to be the perfect striker for this kind of style. A player without much flair and creativity, although more than his brutish demeanor on the pitch suggests.
Simeone has so far been able to calm him down and avoid the moments he’s been known for, which somehow usually don’t result in red cards he deserves to get. The real test, as always, comes when Real Madrid are on the other side of the pitch, which happens to be this weekend, as Atletico try and end a nine-match losing streak to their rivals in the league, and hopefully winning heir first league derby against Los Blancos since the 1999-2000 season.
The Barcelona clashes come very later – the first on January 12, ending the first round of matches in Spain, while the final one is scheduled to the final day of the season, on May 18. Hopefully for Atletico, the combative and tactical approach Simeone has brought to the team, along with some attacking flair courtesy of Costa, David Villa, Koke and Arda Turan, they’ll still be in the championship picture by then, giving us one incredible season ending match.