The making of the kings of La Liga, Atletico Madrid.

The story behind the rise of El Rojiblancos.

On May 17, 2014, Diego Godin thumped in an equalizer and Atletico stood strong to go from 2nd best team in Madrid to the best team in Spain. Let’s just rewind and look at which event has been the most fundamental in the team’s success. ⏪

Diego Simeone took over struggling Atletico in December of 2011 in his first season the club won the Europa League beating Athletic Bilbao 3-0. This was Atleti’s 2nd win in 3 seasons and there was not a single player in the starting lineup in 2012 final who featured in the 2010 final in Hamburg.

Chopping and changing have been more consistent with Atletico than anything else throughout the last decade, for instance, Aguero moved to Man City a season after the 2010 Europa League win, so did De Gea, who moved to the red side of Manchester, somehow Atleti found a way to replace their best players. Who did they replace De Gea with?, a talented Belgian who was signed on loan from Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois, not bad eh? In form Colombian striker, a red hot property from FC Porto, Radamel Falcao whose peak moment in his entire career came in the Red and white shirt of Atletico replaced Sergio Aguero.

Interestingly, Atletico has always lost their star player, whenever a player stands out and the media’s attention is tough to go away from him, the result has always been the player leaving the club. Falcao, Costa, Griezmann, and Carrasco to name a few who have departed the club. Ironically, 3 of the 4 have re-signed for Rojiblancos. Maybe, the grass is not much greener on the other side, is it?

Through all these changes over the years under Simeone, Atletico has done very well on the financial side of things. Every time Atletico lost an important first-team player, they spent money to replace that player, most recently Joao Felix for 135 Mil. euros to replace Antoine Griezmann, which shows they are not afraid to spend money when required. They built a great new stadium “Wanda Metropolitano” which houses 68,000 loyal Atleti supporters who come in every match week to support their team and contribute towards match day revenue.

Atletico under Simeone have been consistent, for the good part of last decade, they have been challenging for the La Liga title and reached the Champions League final on two occasions. Atletico popularized the 4-4-2 formation when it was not really a traditional way of playing in Spain. Most sides in Spain used to deploy 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 and play possession-based football but Atletico believed in defence. They defended in two blocks of four with only two out and out attackers, while attacking the two attackers were supported by overlapping fullbacks to create an overload on wings. Pretty simple and effective, highlighted by the success they achieved over the years.

La Liga has been mostly considered as a two-horse race between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, but Atletico Madrid has changed that and has created a place for their own at the upper echelons of the league. Even though there has been a lot of alterations at the club for reasons unknown, Simeone deserves all the applause to build up a squad that has been weathering storms and coming out even better.