Atletico Madrid have no doubt punched above their weight in La Liga of late. A mixture of good management and clever transfer dealings have somehow keep Diego Simeone’s team competing with La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Atletico are currently Barcelona’s biggest rivals for the Spanish top-flight, although Los Rojiblancos are currently seven points behind the Catalan giants. A 5-2 win at Sevilla on Sunday night was a major signal of intent from Atletico. Simeone’s side were cruising at 5-0 until the Andalucian’s scored two late goals. To record such an emphatic win at the Sanchez Pizjuan was highly impressive.
Antoine Griezmann brilliant
I have to say there have been times when I have watched French striker Antoine Griezmann and wondered if he will ever fulfil his vast potential. Sunday night was not one of those times.
The former Real Sociedad striker was brilliant against Sevilla his first goal was a thing of beauty. The diminutive star took on three Sevilla defenders before hammering a powerful shot beyond Sergio Rico in the home goal.
Griezmann second from the penalty spot was rather less spectacular. However, a cheeky back-heel to set up Koke for a tap-in was a genius touch. The striker completed his hat-trick with a tap-in late on.
Griezmann is reportedly interesting Premier League Manchester United and has done for the past few seasons. The striker has talked about wanting to win the big trophies. Maybe if Atletico does the unthinkable and wins La Liga the striker will be more likely reconsider a summer exit. After all Manchester United are only second in the Premier League, with arch-rivals Manchester City running away with the title.
The ultimate defensive unit
Sevilla’s scoring late goals through Pablo Sarabia and Nolito rather spoilt Atletico’s good defensive record. However, prior to their trip to Andalucia, Atletico had conceded just 53 goals in their previous 100 La Liga games.
That is an extraordinary record for any team in a top league, never mind one that has to face Barcelona and Real Madrid in their domestic competitions.
In truth, Atletico boss Diego Simeone prides himself on his team being hard to beat. That is the reason for Atleti’s overachievement. They have a solid defensive set-up and goalkeeper, with their midfield and forward players also defending from the front. The likes of Diego Costa and Griezmann work so hard at pressing teams that they force opponents into mistakes.
The whole team’s works hard for boss Simeone. The Argentinian seems to be a popular figure amongst the Atletico players.
Crucial clash this weekend
Atletico Madrid may be seven points behind leaders Barcelona, but they have a massive chance to cut that gap when they visit the Nou Camp on Sunday. However, first Simeone’s side host Leganes at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday night, a game they are odds of 2/9 to win.
Meanwhile, Barcelona face a trip to relegation-threatened Las Palmas on Thursday night. If both teams win their midweek games as expected, then Atletico could well cut Barcelona’s lead at the top of the table to four points with a win in Catalonia.
Barcelona have been very consistent in La Liga this season. They are 29 games unbeaten at the Nou Camp in La Liga. Atletico are one of the few teams in the league who could head to Barcelona and believe they could pick up a win. They have picked up big wins before against the Blaugrana.
No doubt Atletico are still major underdogs to win La Liga and Barcelona should still have enough quality to win the title. The men from the capital cannot afford to lose against the leaders.
If they do, it is curtains for their title hopes, as ten points seems like an insurmountable advantage at this stage of the season. They would then have to concentrate on sealing a Champions League spot for next season.
Does Atletico Madrid still have a chance of winning La Liga?
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