New defense, Griezmann and memories of spring: Atletico in check

New defense, Griezmann and memories of spring: Atletico in check

Split preseason

After a first part of the season to forget, failure in the CL group phase and discussions about the coach, Diego Simeone got the curve again in the 2022/23 season. “El Cholo”, who will soon complete a dozen years as head coach at the club, stabilized the team. And Antoine Griezmann was in top form and in the end was possibly the outstanding player in La Liga (15 goals, 16 assists). As by far the best in the second half of the season, it wasn’t enough for Atletico to catch the moody city rivals Real just because of one point. Champion FC Barcelona was ultimately hasty too far.

Transfers: quality for the defense – what about Joao Felix?

But this final sprint made me happy. Is there more this time? Are the transfers fueling the hopes of aficionados in the Civitas Metropolitano?

Well, the Colchoneros mostly tinkered with their defence. With veteran Cesar Azpilicueta (33, played eleven years for Chelsea), former Freiburg Caglar Söyüncü (27, relegated with Leicester), left-back Javi Galan (28, 127 La Liga games, most recently for Celta Vigo) and Uruguayan defensive talent Santiago Mourino (21, Racing Club de Montevideo) added mass and quality. The first three are candidates for Simeone’s starting lineup.

Meanwhile, the “eternal talent” Joao Felix, who is contractually bound to the Red and Whites until 2027, has returned from his loan to Chelsea. Does the now 23-year-old Portuguese offensive dribbler and big earner have a future at Atleti? Open. Sometimes he is associated with PSG, sometimes he publicly dreams of Barça, sometimes Saudi Arabia lures.

One thing is clear: Even without Joao Felix, Atletico, which is associated with PSG driver Marco Verratti (30), was able to put pressure on the front last season. So the Madrilenians are keen to get the Portuguese off the payroll and strengthen their team in other ways.


If the now 32-year-old Griezmann remains fit and willing to play, he will also do better than Alvaro Morata, Memphis Depay and Angel Correa. The new defensive forces can also further stabilize the Atletico defence, so that on the one hand advancing into the knockout phase of the Champions League appears to be a must, on the other hand the top can even be attacked. A 2-1 win against England’s champions Manchester City on the lucrative marketing tour in the Far East will only strengthen such ambitions.

But it is also clear: In order for Atletico to become champions for the third time under Simeone after 2014 and 2021, both Real and Barça must show weaknesses. As a reminder, the Rojiblancos didn’t manage a single win against the two greats last season (including Copa del Rey 0/1/4). This misery must also be ended if the big hit is to succeed.


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