They may have only played two games, but there were no shortage of contenders for Atleti’s August Player of the Month award as the rojiblancos enjoyed a solid start to the new campaign with wins against Las Palmas and Sevilla.
Diego Simeone’s new look side have hit the ground running in La Liga, with an impressive balance between defence and attack and a number of exciting new options to boost the squad following the close of the transfer window.
However, despite Oblak and the defence earning two hard-fought clean sheets, Griezmann taking centre stage in attack, and Óliver Torres stepping up to the plate and shining in both games, it wasn’t quite enough for any of them to take home our monthly prize.
Instead, it was the influence of one of the team’s more unsung heroes that we would like to recognise, and a player who seems to be recovering his best form after a slight blip in the past year or so.
Before the season started, many were leaving our captain fantastic out of their prospective line-ups, but Gabi has answered his minority of critics with two excellent performances so far alongside Tiago in the midfield.
In the opener against Las Palmas, he stamped his authority on proceedings with a tireless display, showing up in all areas of the pitch as Atleti edged out last year’s play-off winners by a solitary goal.
Then in the 3-0 win at Sevilla last week, he resembled the Gabi of 2013/14 in what is notoriously one of the toughest fixtures of the season, against an energetic midfield that were playing with intensity for almost all of the match.
Not only did he put daylight between the teams with the crucial second goal – his first from open play in almost 18 months – but also made more tackles than anybody on the pitch in a man of the match showing.
Now at 32 years of age, after a much-needed break over the summer and a full pre-season, hopefully he still has another top season left in him and is able to continue his excellent early form throughout the rest of the year.
With Barcelona to come at the weekend, Atleti know that to keep the pace they will have to take points from the current champions, and Gabi will be integral to that.
Do you agree with our choice? How important will Gabi be this season?