Recently, Atletico Madrid’s coach, Abel Resino, came out and said that Atletico’s goal for this season is a third or fourth place finish in order to qualify for Champions League (Atletico finished fourth last season). Resino has thrown in the towel before the season has even begun, unofficially handing the La Liga title to either Barcelona or their city rival, Real Madrid. Now how exactly does this concession sit with followers of La Liga, especially with Atletico supporters? This past season Bernd Schuster was fired as head coach of Real Madrid when he admitted that his side could only hope to stay in the game with Barcelona in an upcoming Clasico. A situation that is very comparable to Resino’s. Perhaps, Resino’s statement can be seen as even worse considering that he has come out and said that he has little to no hope of preventing city rival Real Madrid from winning another La Liga title.
Now is it obvious that Barca and Madrid are the front runners to win La Liga? Undoubtedly. However, it could be argued that it was obvious that going into the aforementioned Clasico against Barca, Madrid could only hope to stay in the game based on the two team’s form going into the game. As Schuster learned, it is usually best to not state the obvious. Perhaps, Resino has yet to learn that lesson. How happy can Atletico’s supporters be that Resino has no intention of beating Madrid out for the La Liga title? I’m going to guess that they’re not very happy about that. Atletico finished fourth in the league last season and made it into the Round of 16 of the Champions League. Atletico supporters probably see some room for improvement, possibly aiming to win a Derbi Madrileno, building on their one loss and one tie from last season. Atletico may not be able to win La Liga but it might give their supporters some satisfaction knowing their city rivals won’t win it on their account either. Atletico Madrid also has to be considered one of the few teams outside of Barcelona and Madrid that could win a trophy, the others being Villareal, Sevilla, and Valencia.
Is all hope lost of any competition for La Liga outside of Barca and Madrid? Not exactly. As I mentioned, a Valencia with David Villa is still a contender. A Marco Senna inspired Villareal is always a threat. Sevilla, even without Luis Fabiano, (if he does go to AC Milan) is always a strong team as well. Sure, Barca and Madrid are favorites, but we have to hope that there will be some fight from the aforementioned teams. For Spanish football’s sake.