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Atletico Madrid MKII look ready to upstage Barcelona and Real Madrid once again

Atletico Madrid have held onto key players and added cleverly in the transfer market

On 17 May 2014, at roughly 7:09pm, Diego Godin headed the goal that saw Atletico Madrid draw against Barcelona and win the La Liga title.

It was fitting that the most famous goal in Atletico’s history was scored by a defender.

Even more so that the defender happened to be Godin.


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The moment that changed Godin’s life

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The moment that changed Godin’s life

The Uruguayan has come to symbolise everything good about Cholismo; the art of street smart and will to win that bleeds, quite literally sometimes, from anyone playing under Diego Simeone.

Signed from Villarreal for €8million in 2010, Godin has gone on to establish himself as one of Europe’s elite centre-backs.

In an age where playing out of the back and being comfortable on the ball has seen defenders’ price-tags rocket, Godin is a gritty, head-and-block-anything-in-his-path, throwback.

It’s criminal that the 32-year-old only has one league title to show for his endeavours, although two Europa League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and a Spanish Super Cup mean his trophy cabinet is far from empty.

You’re all fined two week’s wages

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You’re all fined two week’s wages

Four years on from that sunny evening in Barcelona and, on paper, Atletico have assembled their strongest squad yet.

The most important signing came courtesy of an hour-long documentary named ‘La Decisión’.

Antoine Griezmann used the platform to announce, in very non-Atletico fashion, that he’d be staying at the club for the foreseeable future.

The Frenchman will be joined at the Wanda Metropolitano by fellow World Cup winner Thomas Lemar, who’s finally found a way out of Monaco.

Lemar’s been waiting in Monaco’s departure lounge for the last twelve months which explains his off-colour performances last season.

The 22-year-old follows Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa in becoming Atletico’s record signing, so there will be plenty of pressure to perform.

All rise

EPA
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All rise

Further pace has been added to the squad in Sporting CP’s electric winger Gelson Martins.

Martins used the unrest in Sporting to get out of his contract, meaning Atletico technically signed him on a free contract.

The two club mights still have to go through a lengthy court process to decide the final transfer fee, but if there’s one snarling barrister you’d want fighting your corner it’s Simeone.

Free transfers looks a bit different these days

EPA
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Free transfers looks a bit different these days

Atletico’s talented yet ageing right-back Juanfran has new competition in Santiago Arias, who arrived from PSV Eindhoven off the back of Colombia’s World Cup campaign.

The addition of midfielder Rodri from Godin’s former club Villarreal is an intriguing one.

In Koke and Saul Niguez he has two brilliant role models to learn from, and should take well to Simeone’s coaching style.

Vitolo will be hoping to improve with a full pre-season under his belt while Jose Gimenez’s new contract will see the Uruguayan continue his partnership with Godin.

It’s still a small squad- Simeone wouldn’t have it any other way- but there is genuine depth and competition for places.

Defenders who sweat together…

AFP
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Defenders who sweat together…

Of course spending in the transfer market is no guarantee of success.

Atletico followed their title triumph by going big on Griezmann, Mario Mandzukic, Jan Oblak, Alessio Cerci, Raul Gimenez, Guilherme Siqueira and Angel Correa.

Simeone’s football isn’t for everyone.

Atletico finished third in La Liga, a country mile behind Real Madrid and Barcelona, and bounced out of both the Champions League and Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stages.

But, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit from Madrid and Barcelona’s (slightly) diminishing star power, the door is ajar.

Time for some textbook Cholismo football to knock it down.

The villain to rule all villains

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The villain to rule all villains

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