ATLÉTICO DE MADRID

The worst Atlético Madrid of the Simeone era... but still in the title race

El Cholo's Atleti have 35 points, their worst points tally at this stage. But they are third, on course for next year's Champions League. They just lack goals...

El peor Atlético de Simeone sigue enganchado a LaLiga.
INMA FLORES DIARIO AS

Atlético's win over Levante was the team's third consecutive victory in LaLiga following similar results against Osasuna and Betis. It's the second time this season that Simeone's team have strung together three wins - they won the opening three games against Getafe, Leganés and Eibar but crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Real Sociedad in San Sebastián in Week 4. Since then, the team has struggled to gain any type of consistency. In spite of that, El Cholo's team are comfortably placed in the table - third and just five points behind the leading two, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Atleti have 35 points from 19 games - their worst figures of the Simeone era and yet their remain on course to achieve their objective which is to directly qualify for next year's Champions League. 

Atlético, identical figures three years ago

El Cholo's Atleti also ended the first half of the 2016-17 campaign on 35 points, although with more wins - 10 compred to the nine gained so far this season. At the same point in that season, the team had scored 34 goals and conceded 16.

It's been a different story this season in which the team has been struggling to find the net. Atleti have scored 22 goals and let in 12. Álvaro Morata is the top score with seven - almost a third of the total. Ángel Correa, who was on the point of leaving over the summer, has been a key member this season, scoring three and setting up another five. The problem, apart from the goals drought, is the number of games the team has drawn - eight. In the 2013-14 season, when Atlético won the league, they had 50 points at the halfway stage. 

The team has failed to scored in six of the 19 games played so far - against Real Sociedad, Celta, Real Madrid, Valladolid, Barcelona and Villarreal. And they have managed to score two goals or more in just seven games -  against Eibar, Mallorca, Athletic, Espanyol, Osasuna, Betis and Levante. 

At the back, Atleti are as solid as ever - they've let in just 12 goals (along with Real Madrid, that is the best defensive figures in LaLiga). It's more impressive when you consider that it's practically a brand new back four with Trippier, Felipe and Lodi as first choice (and occasionally Hermoso). Atlético remain a team which is very difficult to score against. 

Ángel Correa

Simeone waiting on Diego Costa

Simeone is optimistic that things will improve for the Rojiblancos once Diego Costa returns from injury (he's due back at the end of February). Atlético have been looking for a proven goal scorer for several months and had hoped to bring in Rodrigo Moreno from Valencia last summer. El Cholo knows he needs extra firepower - it's the only area that has been letting them down this season.