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Atletico Madrid Have Broken Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Stranglehold On Spanish Football

atletico madrid champions Atletico Madrid Have Broken Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Stranglehold On Spanish Football

Over the past ten seasons, Barcelona and Real Madrid have finished first and second in La Liga eight times. During that time, only two clubs have been able to break through the Spanish giants’ dominance of the Primera Division: Valencia (who finished in first place in 2003/04) and Villarreal (who were runners-up in 2007/08). The past three seasons, Barcelona and Real Madrid have finished in the top two each year with the next closest Spanish team (third place) trailing them by an average of twenty-two points.

Last season, Atletico Madrid finished in third place and along the way won the UEFA Super Cup before topping off their season with a defeat of Real Madrid in El Copa del Rey; a victory which ended a 14-year (25-match) winless streak in El Derbi Madrileño. A few months later, at the start of the 2013/14 season, Atleti once again walked into the Santiago Bernabeu and beat their local rivals, 1-0.

As of today, Atletico Madrid are level with Barcelona on points (40) after 15 games in La Liga; the two clubs are only separated by goal difference (Barcelona-33, Atletico Madrid-31). Los Colchoneros have already defeated their closest competitors, Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao; they settled for a 1-1 draw against fifth-place Villarreal.

The pinnacle match of Atletico’s season will more than likely take place on January 12 when Barcelona travels to Madrid for what looks like a face-off between Spain’s current top two clubs. If both teams hold to form and the Atleti come out on top of that matchup, the club will finally have the footballing world’s attention. Something they have truly deserved up to this point.

Before the start of the season, there weren’t many football experts picking Atletico Madrid to be competing with Barcelona and Real Madrid for the top spot in La Liga. But the facts are, over the past four seasons Atletico Madrid has won two Europa League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, and a Copa del Rey title. The alarming thing about these accomplishments is the Atleti were able to win this silverware while selling off major talent to other European clubs.

The summer transfer of Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid to AS Monaco could be the last time the Spanish side has to sell one of their prized players to another team. This season, the club renewed the contracts of many of their young players through 2016 and 2018. So goal scorers Diego Costa, David Villa and Raul Garcia will continue to benefit from the playmaking skills of young midfielders Koke and Óliver Torres during future seasons. While Atletico’s defense will continue to be solidified by the stonewall centre-backing pair of Diego Godin and Miranda.

atletico madrid Atletico Madrid Have Broken Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Stranglehold On Spanish Football

The feeling in Madrid is that the players are eager to remain with Los Rojiblancos while they continue to flourish under the leadership style of their Argentinian manager, Diego Simeone, and because they believe in the club’s ambitions.

The corporate side of the club has been doing well with a Daimler showroom built into the side of the Estadio Vicente Calderon, and a massive club shop doing strong business. As a result of the revenue earned from sold out stadiums, a prosperous club shop, corporate sponsorships and long European cup runs, the club has been poised to succeed on the domestic and European scene.

Now, Atletico Madrid have plans to leave their current home ground and move into a new 67,500-seat stadium at the start of the 2015/16 season. Atletico’s new home will be built at the current site of Estadio La Peineta (‘La Peineta’) which is located in the east of the city of Madrid; only a few miles from the city centre and very close to the Barajas International Airport.

‘La Peineta’ will be a soccer specific stadium with roughly 12,000 more seats than Atletico’s current home ground. The €200 million project ($275 million) will provide Los Colchoneros with another financial weapon to compete against Spanish giants: Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Atletico Madrid has already secured their position as group winners heading into Wednesday’s Champions League match versus FC Porto. The Spanish club reached that goal prior to their last European contest at Zenit St. Petersburg; a contest which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Los Colchoneros’ supporters are finding it hard to keep their heads out of the clouds with their beloved club sitting top of their Champions League group as well as La Liga. But manager Diego Simeone has his team focused on the task at hand. Recently, the third-year manager addressed his club’s ambitions:

“We’re doing everything we can to be competitive. We take each game as it comes, and that’s how we aim to achieve the goals many are dreaming of.”

Simeone was scandalously left off the shortlist for FIFA’s 2013 Coach of the Year while managers such as Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger were included. Atletico Madrid President Enrique Cerezo said he was “disappointed” his club’s manager had not made the shortlist. It’s safe to say that the president isn’t the only one at the club who feels that way. From the way they have performed game in and game out, the players appear to be fighting for their manager as well.

There weren’t many people predicting that Atletico Madrid would break Barcelona and Real Madrid’s stranglehold on La Liga’s ‘top two’ at the start of the season. But the club, its manager and players have their minds focused on one goal, and that is to place a red and white flag at the summit of Spanish football.

About Peter Quinn

Although a college basketball coach for sixteen years on the NCAA Division I and II levels, Peter has been an avid football fan for more than half his life. He considers himself a student of coaching and team management. As well as coaching, Peter has spent time working in Sports Information at various colleges and universities. His articles on European football have been picked up by International Business Times UK and USA Today. Twitter: @CoachPeteQuinn
View all posts by Peter Quinn →

18 Responses to Atletico Madrid Have Broken Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Stranglehold On Spanish Football

  1. AJ says:

    Really cool article. While I’m not a huge fan of Spanish football, I always try to keep tabs on where Atletico are. Good for them.

    I think they can Barcelona. I think it will go down to the wire but I think Atletico Madrid can win the league this year.

  2. Dust says:

    “Atletico Madrid Have Broken Barcelona and Real Madrid’s Stranglehold On Spanish Football”

    Perhap that’s a better headline in 3 years time when they’ve won the league or finished 2nd for the next 3 years.

    It’s not even Christmas break yet & both real & Barca have new managers. Is it impressive what they are doing/have done? Sure…but the headline should be something reflective of where they are “The rise of athleti” not as sensationalist I know but actually a reflection of what you’ve written….

    I don’t think they keep hold of Simeone after this season esp if they were to win laliga…which is still highly unlikely…the uber fast pace they play will be to difficult to keep up for the entire campaign without a depr squad…just from what I’ve seen thus far.

    • dust says:

      How did the article demonstrate at any point that the headline is remotely true? It would be as insane as writing that Spurs had broken the hold of the top four clubs because of One year in the UCL…Athleti hasn’t done that, they’ve won a competition that Barca and Madrid are not in because they are in a better one and they have not come close to winning La Liga let alone close to even finishing 2nd!

      So someone please tell me how they have even remotely come close to breaking Barca and Madrid’s hold on spanish football?

      the article just outlines that they are doing well… thats it…

      a lot of sycophants on here now…

      • dck says:

        You’re just an angry self-proclaimed know-it-all that generally posts ridiculous rants. Remember how you went on and on for days that Bale wasn’t going anywhere?

        You’re also obviously insecure. I mean who replies to their own comment because they get some ‘thumbs down’? Get a grip!

        • dust says:

          I replied to my own to add to it…you really need some help, you seem absolutely obsessed with my posts and yes I believed Bale was staying…so what…

          You must be quite a clever fellow really, sneaking out of the ward and getting access to a computer so frequently. You’d think the “Nurses” on your ward would have figured out your escape route by now and stopped you from getting access…

          keep it up tho..but doth keep ignoring the meds, they’re supposed to help you.

          • dck says:

            You did reply to your own response an entire day later because of the thumbs down – stop the bs.

            The problem with your Bale beliefs is that you ranted like a little child attacking the authors and posters. You’re a blowhard plain and simple.

            I bet you thought that lame response was quite clever and funny…another fail on your part. You self-important posters are too funny.

          • Dust says:

            Dick…

            What is wrong with you?

            What are you trying to achieve trolling my posts?

            Posting as multiple users, adding nothing whatsoever, showing yourself as mentally unstable.

            It’s very bizarre, you should take time away from watching this site just incase I post, take your meds and doing something positive, like trying to address your apparent lack of football understanding…or social interaction…

            Try moving on, not being so strange….

            Your obsession isn’t flattering, it’s deluded…seek help…I will no longer respond to your madness…I will continue to post..good luck in whatever it is you decide to do…

            Weirdo

          • dck says:

            Classic, I must be posting as several users since there couldn’t possibly be any others that feel the same about your posts. Too funny.

  3. Southern FC says:

    Atletico Madrid are no joke. I’ve been following them more and more over the past few seasons. Now that they are signing their players instead of selling them the club will remain as the only significant threat to Barcelona and Real Madrid.

    All these rumors about Koke signing with other clubs are ridiculous. He isn’t going anywhere. Atletico are no longer a “selling club”. You don’t invest that kind of money into a new stadium if you are planning on selling your most prized assets.

  4. Glen M says:

    Great article. They have definitely made La Liga more interesting. They’re the Borussia Dortmund of Spain.

  5. Andre says:

    Atletico are a very likeable team, I love Simeone, and I wish them well but this is incredibly pre-mature. We are not even at the halfway point of the season. Before we can say they have “broken the stranglehold” Atletico must win the league and establish themselves as a consistent presence in the last 4 of the Champions League.

    Perhaps the clearest proof they haven’t reached the height of the two La Liga giants is that they are still very much a selling club.

    • Peter Quinn says:

      Good post, Dre.

      This is my third article on Atletico this season. My first article explained that in the past, Atletico have only sold players when they have another player in line to replace him:

      http://worldsoccertalk.com/2013/10/28/atletico-madrid-continue-to-succeed-despite-losing-star-players/

      They sold Falcao because they were comfortable with the squad they had AND because Monaco paid a ridiculous sum of money for him.

      Atletico is a very shrewd and financially savvy club. They have put themselves in a position where they are no longer a “selling club”. They have signed their young players to extensions. No one on their current squad is going anywhere.

      And the argument could be made that they’ve won more silverware than Real Madrid over the past few years. Understandably, the Atleti won the Europa League while Real were competing for a CL title. But Atletico have won two Europa League titles, two UEFA Super Cups, and a Copa del Rey title in four years.

      Real won La Liga, a Copa Del Rey, and a Spanish Super Cup.

      • Andre says:

        Certainly a fair point about selling Falcao because the money offered was astronomical not out of necessity, but I still don’t think they are a buying club. In this most recent transfer window was there a realistic chance Bale, Neymar, Ozil, or Cavani wound up at the Calderon? Do you think the equivalent in next window’s crop will?

        The trophies Atletico has taken are worth noting but I think most people would trade two Europa Leagues for the domestic league. Their record in one-offs is stellar, especially when considering the opposition, but they have to make a serious run in the CL to be put on the same level as Barsa and Madrid, for me at least.

        • Peter Quinn says:

          Again, good points, Dre.

          I don’t think it’s necessary to buy “big” in order to win. Atletico have bought young players who fit their system and developed others through their academy.

  6. Felix says:

    The problem with La Liga is the unfairness of the tv money distribution. Basically Barca and Real get more than the lions share and the rest gets the scraps. The two big clubs have seen to that themselves, with threats and whining to push it through.

    But it means, that the rest of the la Liga teams have a hard time competing, and thus putting up competition for the 2 big teams. This means, that many of the games Barca and Real play are like show matches. Even to the point the opposing team will play a b-side to rest players and avoid injuries amd throw in the towel basically.

    Of course, such lack of competition does neither Barca nor Real any good in the long term. You can be the best player in the world, but are you fulfilling your potential if you never play equally skilled opposition?

    This puts a dent into Messis and Ronaldos frequent hattricks and score when they please. They do still, score in the Euro games, and prove themselves to be the very best, but could that have reached a higher skill level maybe?

    Regardless, the other spanish teams need a break to make it. Money from doing well in Euro, selling very expensive players. To get the ball rolling and run with it. Which is what Atletico is doing now, and much congratulations.

    But for the other Spanish teams, wanting to compete on an international scene where every single Premier league club got £60 million in tv money, and the spanish team got as they say; nada.

    That is tough, weakening La Liga, and in the long run, all the teams playing in La Liga.

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