The story of Atletico Madrid’s 2013/14 season was almost the fairytale of all fairytales. The club won La Liga against all the odds but ended up being defeated by their city rivals Real in the latter stages of the Champions League Final. It was just under two decades since the club had won their domestic title and it was a quite phenomenal achievement. Had they managed to pull off the double it would have been the most remarkable achievement by a team in living memory.
In order to win the league, they had to finish above two clubs who have such vast resources that even the possibility of los Rojiblancos triumphing seemed ludicrous. However, after yet another summer of departures and reorganising it leaves the head coach Diego Simeone with another massive challenge ahead this time round.
Atletico have become almost synonymous with selling their top scoring striker seemingly every summer. In recent memory the club has parted with Aguero, Falcao, Torres and Villa (who also left this summer) but has somehow always managed to line up their next goal machine for the following season. With their talismanic striker Diego Costa leaving for Chelsea, this summer another void has been created.
The task of replacing the Spanish International striker has been handed to Mario Mandzukic who, having spent much of last season on the fringes at Bayern Munich, has plenty to prove. After enjoying the best spell of his career at the German club under Jupp Heynckes, he had decided to move on after failing impress under new coach Pep Guardiola.
This summer has also seen the departure of one of Atletico’s unsung heroes: Filipe Luis. As well as offering brilliant defensive cover, Filipe was also one of the key components of Atletico’s attacking strategy. His delivery from the left hand side has been superb for a number of seasons and has produced many assists for Costa. Much of Simeone’s strengths as a coach stem from organising a strong and well organised defence and his loss would have been tough to take.
However, the coach moved quickly to bring in Guilherme Siqueira from Granada and he will offer similar things to those his fellow countrymen used to. After a few seasons in Spain, he is used to the demands and the style which should enable him to settle quickly. He is an attacking full-back who is quick and accurate with his passing. He has certainly looked as though he can advance to the next level in his career and he now has the stage to prove it.
It was Aristotle who penned the saying ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ and this is exactly what Atletico, and particularly Simeone need to show this season. There is no doubt that Costa was an essential cog in the wheel for the Argentine manager but he is certainly not irreplaceable. The combative style they have shown under his stewardship has won him many admirers but his evolution as a manager will be enhanced because of the changes to his squad.
With victory over Real Madrid so early in the season, confidence will be flowing throughout the squad. Big players have certainly left some holes, but winning will breed confidence again and they will soon be forgotten. Atletico have been here before and come back stronger and with Simeone at the helm it would be hard to predict anything different.
Written by Andy Hunter
Follow Andy on Twitter @hunter67980
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