For Atletico Madrid the feeling of emptiness might be a touch greater this summer, having finished 2014-15 without major silverware—the first season in which that’s happened during Diego Simeone’s tenure. As a result, Atleti fans need things to look forward to in the 2015-16 campaign.
This season Koke’s transition from a wide midfielder to a central orchestrator will likely be accelerated, particularly when you consider Gabi’s decline this season. Alongside him, expect to see plenty more of Saul Niguez, whose development took another step forward in 2014-15.
At the back, Jose Gimenez could be poised to permanently replace Miranda, having enjoyed a sensational breakout season that has placed him among the brightest defensive talents anywhere in Europe.
Though Atletico Madrid put together a sterling run to the 2014 Champions League final, it’s easy to forget that top-tier European football is still a relatively new experience for the club. Indeed, prior to the last two campaigns, Los Colchoneros had featured in just three of the previous 35 editions of the continental competition. Therefore, unlike at clubs such as Real Madrid and Barcelona, Champions League football hasn’t yet become routine for Atletico; there’s still a feeling that Diego Simeone’s men are the new kids on the block when it comes to the competition’s pointy end.
Diego Simeone will claim that his side’s successes are built on team spirit and unity and achievements are proof of that. However, Atletico will do well if they remain in contention for the title come March and this particular columnist predicts that they might be well adrift at that point. Atletico Madrid should have enough about them to be the best of the rest in Spain and should be expected to comfortably hold on to third spot and automatic qualification for the Champions League