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Atletico Madrid has changed skin

In the summer there was the umpteenth revolution: without many top players, it re-starts from João Felix and Simeone, of course

Atletico Madrid has changed skin  In the summer there was the umpteenth revolution: without many top players, it re-starts from João Felix and Simeone, of course

A few hours before the home match against Juventus, the debut of the new Champions League season, there are two large posters that appear on the Wanda Metropolitano's walls: one portrays Diego Simeone with an inscription that says 'Otra Forma De Intender La Vida' while the other shows the captain Koke, the only survivor of the team that the Argentinian coach began to coach in December 2011. Since then it seems like an eternity, and in fact it's just like that: a historic LaLiga triumph has arrived at the end of the season 2013/2014 but also two Champions League finals played well but lost, two Europa League winnings and an European Super Cup, but above all they were years in which Atletico Madrid managed to create and spread its own fair team image that the it has made unmistakable all over the world, exactly the one that can be summarized in the motto put alongside the poster displayed outside the new stadium. Last summer the Madrid team lived another great revolution, the umpteenth that involved the offensive players that in the last few years have succeeded, therefore the team that will face Juventus after just six months from the last time (which you will remember, it did not go very well for the colchoneros) it's changed so much, has lost many of its references on the pitch and that now it must find some others as soon as possible to maintain itself at certain levels.

The transfer window 

The Atletico's squad revolution concerns sixteen players, given to the eight farewells (some of which were already scheduled) followed as many new entries, a maxi-renewal that generated a total turnover of over 550 million euros. If the money received from the sale of one of the leaders like Antoine Griezmann were immediately invested to buy João Felix, the most talented youngster of Portugal who has already proven to be worth the amount paid to Benfica to unlock the buy-out clause of 126 millions, the positions that were completely upset are the defensive ones. The departure of one of the symbols of cholism as Diego Godin and that of the French world champion Lucas Hernandez have been remedied with the arrival of two centre-backs absolutely less reliable like Mario Hermoso and Felipe, taken from Espanyol and Porto respectively; in the meantime the club has proceeded with the total restyling of the full-backs, releasing two over 30s like Filipe Luis and Juanfran, replaced by two real bets, the young Brazilian Renan Lodi and the English Kieran Trippier. Add to this the club was forced to suffer the departure of a column of the midfield like Rodri, literally stolen from Guardiola's Manchester City for the record signing of over 60 millions and never fully replaced, given that the two new arrivals Marcos Llorente and Hector Herrera have very different characteristics from the former Villarreal. And Simeone was also close to receive a new face also in the offensive package, given that the sale of Correa, no longer materialized, would have opened the doors to the arrival of Rodrigo from Valencia.

The beginning of the season

Despite a good pre-season, where João Felix immediately shone (whose flashes stole the show from the other new arrivals, effectively obscuring the general situation regarding the evolution of the team as a whole entity), the team has struggled not a little during the first LaLiga gamedays: the home match against Getafe was unlocked by a gem of the Portuguese star, able to conquer the penalty kick that decided the game thanks to an exciting ride, while at the second match at the Wanda Metropolitano it was necessary a goal by Thomas in the extra-time to avoid a bad internal draw against the modest Eibar. In San Sebastian then, Atletico suffered a bad 2-0 defeat which effectively prevented the colchoneros from going on the top of the league gaining taking advantage over Barcelona and Real Madrid, revealing too many problems in the construction process. The defensive players are certainly the one that seemed certainly more in difficulty, given that the former Fiorentina Stefan Savic, paired with Josè Gimenez, was preferred to the two new arrivals. Even in the middle of the field they seemed to miss Rodri's sense of position and physicality, which at the moment only the Ghanaian Thomas was able, in part, to guarantee. Never before this time, therefore,'El Cholo' Simeone still have to play the fundamental role to direct the fate of the team: first of all it will be necessary to find a new structure for the team, which is expressed through a solid and compact 4-4-2; then pass the baton to new leaders, such as the Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak or the local hero Saúl Ñíguez, who has reached the age of 25 with the maturity of a senior; also make use of some players bought in the past and never fully involved in the project like Thomas Lemar and, no less important, back to being really competitive.

The future

Wondering if this Atletico Madrid can do even better than what we managed to express itself a few seasons ago is the question that has been circulating for days in the minds of so many insiders and fans of Spanish and European football, like Sid Lowe in this video shot in ESPN studios in August. What is certain is that the potential is enormous and the ambitions of being able to return to win LaLiga are absolutely legitimate, given the fluctuating performances of Barça and Real that leave hope of being able to face them widely. And then there's the European dream, the one that failed to be realized even when the battle against the Madrid cousins ​​seemed to have been won (Lisbon 2014) or when their stadium was chosen as the venue for the final, even if the current squad is too inexperienced compared to those of the past years to be able to consider Atletico among the strong candidates to the final triumph. What is indisputable, however, is the progressive growth of a club that year after year has established itself as one of Europe's most competitive realities, despite the many changes, and that has been able to establish a very recognizable technical identity thanks to to the work of Simeone. After obtaining the economic stability that had been missing for years, also thanks to the departure of the Chinese group Wanda, which allowed to delete the company debts, now the property aims to expand also in the other projects: the next step is the one that provides the construction, by 2024, of a Ciutadela that will host, among other things, training camps, the sports academy, the women's team and even a small stadium, and that will be located near the Wanda Metropolitano, in the area of Alcalà de Henares, north-east side of the Spanish capital.