Atletico Madrid managed to get revenge over their arch rivals Real Madrid for the defeat in the Champions League final by beating them in the Super Cup. This was the match between last season’s la Liga champions and the Copa del Rey winners Real Madrid. It is the equivalent of the Community Shield in England but with the tie being played over two legs. The first leg ended as a 1-1 draw at the Santiago Bernebeu with Raul Garcia managing to equalise with just two minutes of normal time remaining. Madrid’s expensive summer signing James Rodriguez had given them the lead in the 81st minute.
A 1-0 victory at the Vicente Calderon helped Atletico get revenge for the Champions League defeat. In an extraordinary campaign, Atletico not only won the league title but they also went to the Champions League final for only the second time in their history. They were leading encounter with minutes remaining on the clock before Sergio Ramos equalised. The goal appeared to have knocked the stuffing out of the team, as Atletico lost the match 4-1 with the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo scoring in extra time. The 1-0 win at home came courtesy of goal from summer signing Mario Mandzukic in the second minute.
Simeone said after the match that beating a team like Madrid gives them a lot of energy. “I am delighted with the work of these boys. We have faced a great champion like Madrid twice and to beat a great opponent like this gives us great energy and motivation moving forwards,” said the Atletico boss, who has lifted several titles with the club since taking over more than three years ago. Despite losing several key players over the summer, Atletico have replaced them with top players like Mario Mandzukic.
Atletico Madrid superstar Koke has revealed that he was subjected to interest from Barcelona in this transfer window, but he chose to remain at his boyhood club. Koke has emerged as one of the top players in Spanish football in the last few seasons. He helped the team win the Spanish league title last season, while the club also reached the final of the Champions League. The 22-year-old was a major part of this team and it is not surprising to see transfer rumours linking him with a move to the Camp Nou.
The offer, though, did not materialise into a serious will simply because Atletico and the player were not ready to move. Koke has revealed the first time that Barcelona were not entertained in their pursuit by Atletico, while he also did not want to move at this stage in his career. Koke is a player celebrated by the Atletico supporters, as they see him as one of their own. Moving to Barcelona would have been a major step in his career since the Catalan club will be continuously challenging for trophies at the top level.
Even though Atletico won the league title last season, they are not expected to sustain the success for long. The 22-year-old was also linked with a move to the Premier League with Chelsea and Manchester United interested in him.
“The truth is that part of me said it was difficult to say no to Barca but I wanted to continue at home for many years at Atletico. It wasn’t time to leave. This is my home, where I feel wanted and the club didn’t need to sell. How was I going to leave at the best time for Atletico? It’s not easy to say no to Barca and their interest was appreciated. It means the work I’ve done has paid off. But I’m at home here,” said Koke.
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has claimed that Spain did not know how to use striker Diego Costa and get the best out of him. The Brazil born striker was persuaded to join the Spanish national team in order to help them cope with the lack of form of strikers like Fernando Torres. Despite being blessed with a lot of quality midfielders, Spain manager Vicente del Bosque does not have a lot of options up front. David Villa took part in his final international tournament after announcing his retirement at the end of the World Cup.
Hence, Costa was taken with the national team in order to defend their World Cup title that we won in South Africa. The defence, though, ended in a spectacular failure after they were knocked out at the group stages with many pointing their fingers at Costa. The 25-year-old started both matches against Netherlands and Chile, but he made little impact. His only contribution at the World Cup after having played more than 120 minutes of football was winning a penalty against Netherlands in the first match.
Diego Simeone, though, has come to the defence of his striker by saying that Spain did not utilise the 25-year-old properly because they did not play to his strengths. Costa scored more than 35 goals for Madrid last season.
“With the result as it is, it would also be very easy to say that Diego Costa didn’t work out. Spain were used to playing at one rhythm and one pace, while Costa offers other characteristics. If you don’t take advantage of Costa’s runs, you isolate him. He likes to exploit the spaces, to attack from deep positions and to get on the end of final passes, but Spain’s football focuses more on the collective. Playing that collective game, they were not able to take advantage of Costa,” said Simeone.
Atletico Madrid have criticised Chelsea for their stance over goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is due to return to the London club after his loan spell with the Spanish outfit came to an end. Despite signing for Chelsea back in 2011, Courtois has not played for the West London outfit. Instead, he has been spending the last three years on loan at Atletico Madrid where he has enjoyed an immensely successful spell. He has won every major title apart from the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding the future of Courtois.
Atletico are thought to be interested in not only taking him for a fourth consecutive loan spell, but also on a permanent basis as well. However, Chelsea’s demands of a £ 20 million transfer fee is thought to have put of the Spanish champions. Recently, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo criticised Chelsea for not providing the clarity on the 22-year-old’s future. Even though the Chelsea would want to keep Courtois for the long-term, the player is understood to be not happy at being the second choice to Petr Cech. Chelsea also have reservations regarding selling Petr Cech, who is at the peak of his career.
“There’s a little problem, which is Chelsea, I imagine if Chelsea wants him to stay for the season, they’ll keep him and if not, it’s best if we reach an agreement, which is to keep him with us for another season. Players play where they want to play and if there’s a player who is under contract and wants to play for another team, they already know what they need to do, activate their release clause and leave,” said the Atletico president. Despite the criticism, Chelsea are expected to sign as much as three players from the Spanish outfit in the summer.
Atletico Madrid managed to win the league title ahead of both Real Madrid and Barcelona this season. They have become the first team since Valencia to achieve this feat. It has been a remarkable transformation for the club, which cost less than £ 100 million for the entire starting 11. Diego Simeone has been receiving a lot of plaudits for the way he has transformed the club into a team that works for each other. Teammate ethic has been a major reason towards Atletico winning the title and Simeone says that this team can go on to receive more plaudits in the future.
Atletico managed to stay unbeaten against Barcelona throughout the season and this helped them win the league title in the end. The 1-1 draw at the camp Nou saw them finish two points above the Catalan club after the 38 game season. The club came into the match looking to steal the title, which would be possible with just two point. The case was different for Barcelona, who had to win the match in order to retain the title. For long periods of the match, it looked like the goal from Alexis Sanchez in the first half will hand Barcelona the title when they clearly have not been the best team this season.
Godin, however, had the last laugh after his goal helped the club win the title.
“Today will be one of the most important days in the history of the club. I never thought for a moment the team would not do it. They always have a response. The bigger the challenge is, the more determined they are to achieve it. To become champions against Barcelona is a great feeling. We were calm at half-time as the team had started well although the injuries to Diego and Arda were a problem,” said Simeone.