Atlético Madrid were the last team capable of breaking the “Big Two” duopoly in La Liga, and following the signing of striker Luis Suárez; they could finally be ready to mount another serious bid to climb above Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The capture of Suárez was undoubtedly a coup, especially for the modest outlay involved, with Barcelona keen to get the 33-year-old off their wage bill during the recent transfer window. Atlético saw their opportunity and went for it, wasting zero time luring the Uruguayan star to the Wanda Metropolitano.
Indeed, the addition of Suárez could be the missing ingredient for the side managed by Diego Simeone, who could now have the attacking tools to push for the title this season. Especially considering the disappointing return of goals from Diego Costa, who has managed just 11 goals in 56 La Liga outings over the last two and a half seasons.
Álvaro Morata fared a little better, scoring 18 goals in his 49 La Liga outings. His departure to make way for Suárez is hardly surprising, both for economic and tactile reasons. Despite his advancing years, 33-year-old Suárez remains an authentic goalscoring machine, genuinely capable of improving his new team.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) September 25, 2020
With these factors considered, let’s look at the favourites: reigning champions Real Madrid are strongly tipped to achieve back to back titles, priced at 11/10 odds. Meanwhile, despite much upheaval heading into the new season, with Lionel Messi almost leaving, Barcelona are priced at 11/8 as the nearest challengers.
However, looking at the odds of 6/1 in the La Liga betting, Atleti are considered to have a genuine chance of competing with the “Big Two” for the title this season. Nevertheless, they will need to improve significantly compared to last season, which means that Suárez could make all the difference. Indeed, he wasted no time in making an instant impression on his debut.
Granada had their sights set on on European adventures but they were mercilessly crushed by Atlético Madrid, who were already four goals ahead when Suárez was handed his debut from the bench. He didn’t waste that opportunity and, in the clinical fashion we’ve come to expect, scored twice as Los Colchoneros completed a 6-1 victory.
Newly promoted Huesca were the next opponents for Atlético and they proved a little more stubborn and Suárez was unable to make the desired impact needed in that game. For all their dominance, Simeone’s men just couldn’t make the breakthrough, which underlines the lingering doubts that plagued his team last season. They also came unstuck against Villarreal as they were held to another 0-0 draw.
Atlético concluded the 2019-20 campaign third in La Liga, 17 points behind champions Real Madrid and 12 behind second-placed Barcelona. They only lost 4 games but frustratingly, 18 were drawn and that was the key difference at the top last season. Only Celta de Vigo, who narrowly avoided relegation, tied the same amount.
Looking ahead, it’s hard to see Atlético struggling to convert so many draws into wins this time around. Suárez is a striker who can comfortably give Simeone more than 20 goals this season, which could be the key difference. Once fully settled and hitting his typical playing rhythm, having Suárez at the tip of the lance may well propel this team towards the title.