Despite finishing in a respectable third place, Atletico Madrid have fallen short in the title race in the last two seasons.
The Rojiblancos have finished behind Real Madrid and Barcelona in the league table each season after their shock title triumph in 2013/14, but 2016/17 could well see them go the distance.
Results against stellar opposition has improved from 2015/16
Atletico Madrid are coming off the back of an outstanding Spanish La Liga season, amassing 88 points from 38 games, but their failure came from poor form against the sides around them in the table. Eventual title-winners Barcelona took six points off Atletico Madrid in the league last season, while Villarreal and Sevilla also managed to stop Diego Simeone’s side from winning at the Vicente Calderon.
Admittedly, Atleti didn’t have many slip-ups, but they were top of the table in the middle of January so they had the title in their grasp. Away form was a particular achilles heel, with five of their six defeats coming on the road in 2015/16, but things have improved this campaign. Atletico have already held Barcelona at the Nou Camp, while beating Bayern Munich in the Champions League, which shows they’re capable of matching any side in the world now.
Goal-laden results to go with defensive resilience
Last season, Atletico averaged just 1.66 goals per game in the Spanish La Liga. Barcelona and Real Madrid scored well over 100 goals by comparison, but this campaign has seen signs that Atleti have more goals in their arsenal. Diego Siemone’s men has scored four or more goals in 33% of their league games already in 2016/17, compared to the 0.02% of games last season.
And with Atletico Madrid conceded just two goals from their six games played in the league so far, the signs are looking good that they can sustain a title challenge. In the Champions League, they’ve so far kept clean sheets in both group games against PSV Eindhoven and Bayern Munich, and are full of confidence of topping the Spanish giants over 38 games.
Despite a sticky start with draws against Alaves and Leganes, Atletico Madrid responded brilliantly with thrashings against Celta Vigo and Sporting Gijon, and look worthy opponents in the title race this season. Currently third in the table with 12 points from six games, Atleti are one point adrift of second-placed Barcelona and just two points behind leaders Real Madrid. Atletico Madrid are 10/1 to win the Spanish La Liga title this season. Can they do the impossible again?