Winning La Liga Again Would Be Greatest Achievement For Simeone5 min read
Before the end of the 2018/19 season, Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid knew that an overhaul of their staff would be required.
Lucas Hernandez’s buyout clause had been paid by Bayern Munich and captain, Diego Godin, had already announced that it would be his last campaign at the club he had served so well.
Juanfran’s decision to move on wasn’t the worst news in the world, but once Rodri’s buyout clause had been paid by Manchester City and Antoine Griezmann had finally departed for Barcelona, the outlook for the Rojiblancos wasn’t the best.
Gelson Martins, Luciano Vietto and Filipe Luis soon followed, along with a smattering of squad players.
Fortunately, rumours that Jan Oblak was going to jump ship too, were soon quashed.
In any event, Diego Simeone had lost a big part of his squad in the space of a few weeks, and with the new season fast approaching the club would have to pull a few rabbits out of the hat.
Desperate times call for desperate measures they say, and perhaps that’s what focused the minds of all concerned.
Spending big on Benfica teenager, Joao Felix, was seen as a bit of a gamble at the time given that he’d only played for a season in the Portuguese league. However, since his £113m move, he’s proven in a relatively short space of time that he can be the club’s next superstar.
Joining him are highly-rated 24-year-olds, Marcos Llorente, cast aside by neighbours Real Madrid, and Espanyol’s Mario Hermoso, a centre-back tipped to go to Los Blancos but poached by Simeone.
Kieran Trippier, Felip and Renan Lodi are all high-quality additions, and it’s believed that Angel Correa will soon be sold to be replaced by Valencia’s Rodrigo.
It has been, even without the Los Che striker, a stunning transfer window from Atleti, and arguably one of their best given what they were up against just a few short weeks ago.
The test for Simeone and his players now is to go that extra mile in La Liga.
Barcelona have run away with the domestic competition in the last couple of seasons, but have looked vulnerable defensively this season.
By contrast, Atleti have been strong, well-drilled and compact. Two 1-0 wins, over Getafe and Leganes, might not have the supporters shouting from the rooftops, but Simeone will be delighted.
They’re only kept off the top of the table by virtue of Sevilla having scored one more goal than they have.
Bigger tests await them, but there is a verve about them, mixed with the grit, that harks back to the 2014 title-winning squad.
If Simeone can continue working his own unique brand of magic with the 2019 vintage, a second league title will eclipse anything that’s gone before, and on current form, it’s going to take a brilliant side to knock them off of their perch.
Atletico Madrid to win La Liga 2019/20