Atletico Madrid Season Preview: Refreshed strike force to lead side to glory?August 14, 2018
Atletico Madrid showed last season just how dangerous a side they are, remaining undefeated for their first 16 matches in the league. Diego Simeone’s side ended the season as runners up, 14 points behind winners Barcelona. They were rewarded for their performances by becoming Europa League champions after a 3-0 win against Marseille in Lyon.
This season, the side will be looking to continue their form in the league; however Simeone must be looking for better performances in Europe. Atleti reached the Europa League having finished third in their Champions League group. Drawing both ties against Qarabag FK meant the capital side finished behind Chelsea and Roma, therefore failing to progress to the knockout rounds.
Where must they improve?
Atleti managed to score only 58 goals in the league last season, which in comparison to Barcelona’s 99 scored and Real Madrid’s 94 is quite poor for such a strong side. Diego Simeone has obviously seen this as a weakness and has invested in a brand new strike force for the upcoming season, with Nikola Kalinic arriving from AC Milan as well as wingers Thomas Lemar and Gelson Martins signing up to provide an already deadly strike force in Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa with skilful wing play.
What to expect?
Expected finish: 3rd
Surprise newcomer: Rodri
La Liga News UK’s best young player of the season 17/18 winner Rodri created more passes for Villarreal last season than Sergio Busquets did for league winners Barca. The 22 year-old is expected to feature prominently in Atleti’s midfield, with supporters hoping the youngster can continue his fine form for his new side.
Potential hero: Diego Costa
When Los Rojiblancos kick off their new season away to Valencia on the 20th, it’ll be the first game in striker Diego Costa’s first full season back at Atleti since his return from Chelsea last season. Antoine Griezmann didn’t have a sole partner in attack last season, with Simeone choosing to rotate the second striking place between Costa, Fernando Torres, Kevin Gameiro and Luciano Vietto. With the other three leaving the club, the focus will be on Costa to show just how capable he is as a starter, with his eye for goal and physical presence sure to help the side to glory.
Ins and outs
Arrivals: Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Rodri (Villarreal), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Jonny Castro (Celta Vigo), Antonio Adan (Real Betis), Gelson Martins (Sporting CP)
Departures: Kevin Gameiro (Valencia), Diogo Jota (Wolves), Pierre Kunde (Mainz), Emiliano Velazquez (Rayo Vallecano), Gabi (Al Sadd), Fernando Torres (Sagan Tosu), Sime Vrsaljko (Inter Milan, loan), Bernard Mensah (Kayserispor, loan), Axel Werner (Huesca, loan), Andre Moreira (Aston Villa, loan), Jonny Castro (Wolves, loan), Luciano Vietto (Fulham, loan)