Coming off the Sack of the Bernabéu in May, fantastic performances in La Liga and two gutsy efforts over European colossus Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup, why can’t Atlético supporters expect a legitimate shot at the league title throughout the course of the season?
Our tribe of Indios share their thoughts on the matter:
Robel: It looks like we don’t have to expend as much as energy to win games this season as we did last season. It’s only against Barça that we really had to dig deep, but otherwise we’ve had fairly comfortable games, even against Sevilla where we never really got into trouble, even if they did control midfield.
If we can keep up this high level, we’ll definitely win more games and not fatigue as early as we did last season. I can easily see us exceed last season’s point total and reduce the gap between us and the big two in La Liga. But I don’t expect us to get close enough for a title challenge, much as I would love one.
Arthur: The league is a tough one. I would never downplay any team that is competing in it. Having said that, it’s still clear we have a minuscule chance of winning it. You simply can’t compete with what seem to be unlimited budgets.
But, while Madrid and Barcelona spend more than triple our budget on one player, Atleti never give up. Gabi recently said, “We replace money with hard work, sacrifice and a unified locker room,” and though I agree with Gabi’s statement, sadly, it’s not enough to win the league. But, hell! It’s enough to give a fight, to bite the big two, and to slow them down just a bit while we creep closer. Even though the league isn’t ours, and it probably won’t be for many years, Atlético won’t make it easy for anyone. Enhorabuena to the 2013/14 La Liga winner, regardless of who it is, I know I’ll be proud of my team’s accomplishments.
Gert: We depend too much on the results of the ‘Big Two’. Last year proved that. Years ago, we could have easily won the league with the same amount of points. Barcelona and Real Madrid are almost flawless. We need them to slip up, and not slip up a single time ourselves. With Champions League coming this season, our squad will definitely try to put more effort in that competition as well.
Simeone might need to rotate a bit more, as I think we were lucky last year not to have had many injuries. Also, money is an issue of course. Atleti spent nearly nothing on transfers compared to Real and Barça. But, we have Cholo, a fighting spirit and, above all, we have a team. So, anything’s possible.
Susanne: Cholo Simeone was right by saying that La Liga is a league of only two teams and that Atlético won’t be able to compete for La Liga. I think everyone who follows the Spanish league knows that, even if some people still don’t want to admit it. The thing is, due to the big difference between the teams in La Liga, you need way more wins than in other European leagues. Just look at last season’s final table.
Barcelona only lost twice in the league last season. Due to this fact, Atlético would have to build up a team that will beat every other side of La Liga and win against Real and Barcelona. With our financial background (don’t forget about the huge tax gap) and our directors doing strange things with the little money we have, it’s just not possible for us to put together that type of squad. To compete with the Big Two, you would not only need 11 class players but, also, a decent set of fringe players that ensure that rotation does not result in a drop in quality. Yes, we have a team and we have improved a lot, but as happy as I am for the positive effect Cholo Simeone has on the club, there is nothing else we can do than try to close the gap and wait until the LFP realises that a league of two is not what the people want to see.
Ricky: I love this statement from José Luis Pasqués, Simeone’s press officer and close confidante: “When we win it’s victory, when we lose it’s a lesson learned.” Atleti are that good student getting better and better year-after-year. Will it be enough to truly compete neck-and-neck with the Big Two? In my opinion, not yet. Will we be there anytime soon? If we are able to secure Simeone’s tenure for many seasons, if the club prioritises sports objectives over personal and third party ones, if the club owners look away from their own past and focus on sound investments in players and shrinking the debt…too many ifs, right?
Martin: None of the reasoning and arguments made by my colleagues matter at all. Don’t even waste your time reading them. Oh, you already did? Whoops. Probably should have placed this at the top. Now, let me explain why none of their opinions matter.
Back in May, days after we won the Copa del Rey, I arrived early at the futsal court I play at twice a week. I was with a friend, Sam, and we were taking shots on the mini goals we play with. They’re so small that ‘Mono’ Burgos would be guaranteed a clean sheet every time if he sat in front of them facing the net.
I was on the opposite side of the court, roughly 40 yards out, and told Sam, “Hey man, if I make this shot from here, Atleti win the title next season.” Sam acknowledged, nodded and uttered a decisive, “Okay.”
I took a few steps back, breathed in, focussed, breathed out and proceeded to strike the ball, which took a slightly curling path through the air before settling on its direct course into the net.
You’re welcome Atléticos.