Atletico Madrid primed to retain La Liga title B

Aug 20 2014, 08:03 IST
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SummaryChampions Atletico Madrid have been predictably shorn of key players for the new La Liga campaign...

Champions Atletico Madrid have been predictably shorn of key players for the new La Liga campaign but have reinvested well and can again upstage the top two in Spain.

Long before last season was over, clubs with more financial clout were eyeing pickings from the Calderon as Diego Simeone's resilient side breathed new life into the championship which had become a two-horse race between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The Champions League finalists have lost talisman Diego Costa to Chelsea who have also signed keeper Thibaut Courtois and full-back Filipe Luis.

David Villa is another departure but the club has made some shrewd signings.

Keepers Miguel Angel Moya and Jan Oblak have been brought in to cover the significant gap left by Courtois and will be competing for a starting place.

The experienced Guilherme Siqueira is a reliable replacement for Filipe Luis and will similarly offer a threat going forward down the wing.

The rest of the first-choice backline should remain the same, with Diego Godin the leader at the back and his centre half partner Joao Miranda now set to stay despite plenty of speculation over a move to the English Premier League.

Central midfield is also unchanged following Tiago's U-turn on a move to Chelsea.

Going forward they have replaced Costa with Mario Mandzukic from Bayern Munich while Raul Jimenez, who signed from Mexican side America, will also vie for a place.

LITTLE TIME TO ADAPT

Antoine Griezmann is an exciting talent taken from Real Sociedad and will provide options on the left wing or in attack.

"With the new signings and the fact we are likely to have four different players in the team, it means that there will be a big change," Simeone told a news conference in Madrid.

"The players have different characteristics and there is little time to adapt so it is difficult to say how well we will do. We will be competing though with Sevilla, Valencia and (Athletic) Bilbao for the Champions League places.

"The fact is that we have spent 95 million euros ($126m) on our signings and they (Real and Barcelona) have spent that on just two. It is the same as ever and we will fight with what we have.

"Diego Costa has gone but the structure of the team will be the same. We will have the same stability, same style of play.

"The way that Mandzukic plays is not the same as Costa and Griezmann has some similarities while Jimenez is somewhere in

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