1) Atletico are no pushovers
After the departures of Diego Costa, Filipe Luis, Thibaut Courtois and David Villa, many expected Atletico to still be up there in the La Liga race but eventually finish behind Barcelona and Real Madrid. However, based on their recent league win and Spanish Super Cup triumph over Los Blancos, it looks like they’re more than just one season wonders.
With some impressive signings, it’s even possible that this Atletico team could achieve more than Diego Simeone’s side of 2013/2014, staking a claim as one of Europe’s best sides.
2) Squad depth
When Diego Costa got injured in the Champions League final back in May, Koke aside, Atletico really lacked a player who could create something out of nothing. Squad depth however, isn’t an issue anymore at the Vicente Calderon.
At the Bernabeu, Atletico were able to call on Antoine Griezmann and Arda Turan off the bench – both of whom who made decisive impacts in Atletico’s first ever back-to-back win at Real Madrid. Simeone was notably happy:
“What I am most pleased about today is that the players who came off the bench did what we were expecting of them and did it well.”
And with the likes of Alessio Cerci, Jesus Gamez and Cristian Ansaldi still to make their debuts, Atletico are well packed.
3) Moya taking his chance
In what was seen as a backup signing, Miguel Moya has certainly taken advantage of Jan Oblak’s injury problems. The Slovenian – the most expensive goalkeeper signed in La Liga for €16 million – was seen as the eventual successor for Thibaut Courtois but it could be that Moya, the former Getafe man, is Simeone’s new man between the sticks.
With some great performances, a quick acclimatization, and a confident voice, Moya has settled in well at Atletico and it would be harsh for him to have to relinquish the starting spot if Oblak were to be fit and ready to go.
The Spaniard made impressive saves against Real Madrid and as it stands, has conceded 3 goals in 5 games.
4) Atleti could actually be Real Madrid’s kryptonite
Before the game, Raul Garcia made a claim that Atletico Madrid knew how to beat Real Madrid:
“Atletico know how to play against Real Madrid and we can beat them. We have shown that. The only time in recent history where we took the wrong approach was in the Copa del Rey last season.”
It was a risky thing to say – perhaps with the intention of phasing Los Blancos – but Garcia was proved right as Atletico made it yet another win over their rivals. It just shows what a great job Simeone has done with this team that they are finally a thorn in their neighbour’s side.
The funny thing is, Real Madrid fans held a banner in 2011 saying “Derby rival wanted,” and since then, Atletico have won 3 out of the last 4 games at the Bernabeu. Lesson? Be careful what you wish for.