NOT THE SAME FORCE

Atletico Madrid have not been the same force that they were last season, as they have struggled to score goals on a regular basis this time around. A lot of it has to do with the numerous personnel changes that have happened in the summer. Star striker Diego Costa, who contributed most of the goals last season is now playing for Chelsea, is being felt since Mario Mandzukic is not exactly the same kind of player. In order to continue getting the results, Atletico have had to modify their style of football in the last few months.

They have been getting more number of goals from set pieces than most of the teams from Spain or Italy. This, in turn, has led to the criticism of the team’s style of football from various quarters. Due to the Spanish league being highly technical, teams do not often resort to physical style of football. Their manager, Diego Simeone, who was recently voted as the best manager in Spain last season, says that he is happy with the threat from set pieces and he finds no in using them to the benefit of his team. Atletico managed a 1-0 win over Getafe in the latest league encounter. Summer signing Mandzukic scored the only goal of the game in the 40th minute.

“It happened again today. It’s a tool in football, it seems like it’s a bad thing to score goals like this. It’s normal to have these types of options. After playing three games this week, it’s not an easy thing to score eight goals and keep three clean sheets,” said Atletico manager. They have been finding it difficult to match the exploits of last season. It is not surprising that they are fifth in the table, but they are just two points below Barcelona.

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Madrid get revenge

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.

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Koke Reveals Barcelona Interest

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.

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