Six games into the 2013 La Liga season, and the top of the table seems about right. Barcelona have won all six of their matches with a goal difference of +17, while right behind them are Atletico Madrid with six wins and a +13 goal difference.
Real Madrid have gotten off to another slow start in La Liga. Los Blancos have started off the 2013 season in better form than the 2012 season in which they were 2-2-1 through their first five matches.
But the story of the season so far is the blistering form from Atleti. Last year they were 5-0-1 through 6 matches and that was with Radamel Falcao. This season, they’ve been perfect and have allowed five goals while scoring 18, only four less than Barcelona.
Coming into the 2013 season, it was thought that Atletico Madrid would face great challenges without their prolific goalscorer Falcao, who scored 52 goals in 68 appearances for Los Colchoneros. Their first 6 matches have proved otherwise. Atletico made some fantastic moves during the summer transfer window that have strengthened the team and all but erased the despair of losing Falcao. Diego Costa and David Villa have effectively replaced the Colombian hit-man and have combined for 9 goals through 6 games, 7 of those goals coming from Costa, who in doing so has equaled Falcao’s tally through 6 games last season. The striking pair has also assisted one goal each throughout that 6-match span.
Young Spanish midfielder Koke produced 80 chances last season, resulting in 3 goals and 9 assists while maintaining a pass accuracy of 81%. This season he has recorded 2 goals and 5 assists while passing with 85% accuracy through just six matches. The young Óliver Torres has made two appearances as a substitute and the young midfielder, considered to be a creative mastermind in the passing game, has averaged an 85% passing accuracy in those matches. His wonderful showing with the Spanish u21 side gives Atletico and their faithful a lot to look forward to, as long as Barcelona doesn’t snatch him from their grasp as they’re keen to do so.
On August 31, Atletico acquired Belgian centerback Toby Alderweireld from Ajax, who snubbed Liverpool in the process. Alderweireld is a strong and versatile defender who can play in the center or on the right and is known for his physical prowess, ball playing ability and passing. He has yet to make an appearance for Atletico, but when he does find his way into the first team he will be sure to make a difference. Arda Turan has continued his playmaking influence this season by recording 1 goal and 2 assists as well winning 59% of his duels and passing with 80% accuracy.
Thibaut Courtois, last year’s Zamora Trophy winner, is off to another great start in La Liga. So far he has only conceded 5 goals, kept 2 clean sheets and has only allowed 2 goals on one occasion. He’s averaging 100% claim success, 60% distribution success and 1.33 saves per match, which shows that his side is protecting him quite well.
At this pace it stands to reason that Atletico will finish in the top 3 yet again and if they can continue this blistering form then there is a chance, albeit a small one, that they could take the second spot. Atletico’s next match is against local rivals Real Madrid, who are looking to set the record straight after losing the Copa del Rey in May. This will prove to be a real test for Atletico, as Real Madrid now have Isco and Gareth Bale at their disposal and will surely look to grab a convincing victory at home.