Records have been broken left, right and centre in this transfer window but for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, it has been quite an arduous summer in that department. Their transfer ban means that any players that sign for the club are unable to play until January, as is the case with Vitolo. That means that the Coach must make the most of the players he has in his squad, and based on the recent 1-5 thrashing of Las Palmas, that is by no means a bad thing
If Atleti want to improve upon or at least maintain their recent successes, their younger players must step up during this period and make their case for regular playing time. In Gran Canaria, the average age of the starting XI was 24-years-old, suggesting that Simeone is relishing the chance to get the most out of players who perhaps would not have enjoyed these opportunities had the ban not been imposed. In fact, some of them - like Luciano Vietto and Angel Correa - might not have even been at the club.
Correa is the prime example of this; the diminutive Argentinian has always shown flashes of the immense quality he possesses, but never put together a sustained run of good form. He has now scored two excellent goals in the two opening games and there is no reason why he should not be starting alongside Antoine Griezmann in big games if he can continue in this vein.
The same surely goes for Thomas Partey, who might lack the range of passing that Gabi boasts, but showed at Las Palma that he can be a dominant and assured presence in central midfield. Another very important factor is that the more experienced players continue to perform as well, which was also evident against Los Amarillos, especially in the form of Koke, who bagged two exceptional goals.
“The game was very good, we started with energy, dynamism and knowing where we could do damage,” Simeone said after the game. “It helped us take the lead quickly and then another match started. In the second half, we played in the best way possibleWe were lucky to have a great game like last season.
“It’s not easy if you concede a goal in opening five minutes. I always look for the best and imagine that we can pose danger in any situation. We were ruthless and had an ambition to go for the win.”
Cholo was clearly very pleased with his team’s performance, but it is important that Los Colchoneros do not get too carried away. Their opponents are not exactly renowned for their defensive strengths and were not at their best going forward. It is a long season and whether or not these young players can help to put Atleti in a solid position before January comes and the ban is lifted remains to be seen.
However, they showed that they can perform brilliantly and blow teams away, which is something that Simeone will certainly appreciate.