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Simeone has done a brilliant job rebuilding Atlético


As what usually happens whenever Real Madrid lose, talk tends to focus on their ‘crisis’ (every time Madrid lose it’s a crisis) rather than giving merit to the team who beat them. Of course it should never be that way, and particularly this time because the brilliant game Atleti played deserves attention and critical analysis. They also thoroughly deserve the position they hold right now – ever closer to the status which Madrid and Barça possess, and pulling further and further away from the chasing pack in LaLiga. That 3-7 victory will soothe any fears Atlético fans might have had about their team –one which only recently lost its entire back four - and Rodrigo, their midfield general - and Griezmann, the superstar of the past few seasons.

Diego Costa
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Atlético's vision for the future

The response to those losses has been astonishing and gives the sensation that behind it all is a proper, fully functioning club, a model that is being followed – and that hasn’t always been the case at Atleti. With Simeone at the helm, everyone is now pulling in the same direction and there is now a sense of unity which is being transposed into collective hard graft. So while they were building a new stadium, they have also been planning to replace and replenish Simeone’s faithful old guard (starting with Gabi’s departure) and in New Jersey we saw a brand-new team – a great, ready-made Atleti. And it’s not just about the 11 players in the team. I couldn’t help thinking that, El Cholo has given himself the option of fielding the Koke-Saúl partnership in midfield – or using the Llorente-Herrera pairing – either way, he’s guaranteed that the team’s motor will continue running efficiently and smoothly.

Joao Félix in action against Real Madrid
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Joao Félix in action against Real MadridJAVIER GANDULDIARIO AS

Astute signings

Added to all of that is a pearl of a player, João Félix. He cost a lot of money, sure, but as Paulo Futre mentioned yesterday, in no time, nobody will even remember his transfer fee. He debuted out wide on the wing, dropped back to help out in defence when needed and delivered a first class contribution in attack. He is a classy player with superb vision. He was expensive because there are very few players of his calibre around. And Atlético could afford to buy him by selling Griezmann, Rodrigo and Lucas, players they might have wanted to offload anyway but it has allowed them the luxury of bringing in João Félix and completely rebuilding the defence. But the best thing about Atlético is that they have a model which is not based on blind extravagance, but rather on positive, team spirit and the efforts of a handful of very able people.