Man of the match.
Joao Felix is going to be a star! ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/YATWfyOQbo— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 30, 2019
Atletico Madrid have been able to punch above their weight in LaLiga and the Champions League compared to the spending power boasted by their Spanish and European rivals. Diego Simeone has always managed to get the best of his squad, producing a strong level of consistency in their performances during his eight-year tenure. However, the coming campaign could be the biggest challenge since his arrival in Madrid.
The club have lost Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona, while long-standing captain Diego Godin completed a move to Inter Milan. Rodri completed the exodus with his transfer to Manchester City, leaving a void at all three levels of the team.
Atletico’s response has been impressive, landing a deal for one of the best rising talents in the world in the form of Portugal’s Joao Felix. A number of teams were interested in the 19-year-old, but Simeone and company convinced him to move to the Wanda Metropolitano for £113m. Marcos Llorente moved across the city from the Bernabeu to attempt to replace Rodri in the middle of the park, while Mario Hermoso and Felip will shore up the back following Godin’s exit.
Given their transfer activity over the course of the summer, it’s fair to assume that Atletico will once again be there and thereabouts in La Liga when considering a football prediction from Betfair at the top of the table alongside Barcelona and Real Madrid. However, there was a lot of ground to make up on reigning champions Barca, who have also snatched away Atletico’s leading man. Real Madrid have been extremely active in signing players to re-establish themselves in La Liga after two underwhelming finishes since their last triumph in the 2016/17 campaign.
#AtleticoMadrid boss Diego Simeone on defined playing styles: “Ajax have one, #FCBarcelona have one, Juventus do, #Atleti too but #RealMadrid do not.” https://t.co/XcBfbESF3H pic.twitter.com/8hFj9kcubh— footballespana (@footballespana_) August 5, 2019
The challenge will be set for Felix for than any other player to hit the ground running. He has earned comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo, which carry a huge weight of expectation. Felix scored 15 goals for Benfica in the Primeira Liga last season in his first full term at senior level. The 19-year-old will be expected to match those levels of production to ensure that Atletico remain in the top three. Alvaro Morata will be a useful foil for the Portuguese in the final third. Their partnership will be crucial as Atletico cannot rely on Diego Costa and his indiscipline on the pitch.
More will be expected of Thomas Lemar and Angel Correa to provide ammunition for Felix. Atletico’s squad cannot afford to have the burden all fall on the shoulders of the Portuguese, especially early in the campaign when he will be finding his feet. The midfield should be fine without Rodri as Saul and Koke have the experience to guide Llorente through the opening matches before he settles into his role.
Perhaps the biggest test will be at the back. Simeone’s men have been one of the best defensive teams in the world since his arrival. Godin was a huge part of their impregnable backline along with his leadership. Jose Gimenez is developing into a world-class defender, but he cannot afford to have a weak link next to him in the middle. Hermosa and Felipe have to hit the ground running more than anyone else to maintain the identity of the team