It’s taken the majority of the season for Atletico Madrid to find a working formula, but in March, it finally appeared as if it clicked.
Los Colchoneros limped over the line to win the title last season but there was an awareness that things weren’t functioning well at the start of the season. A large part of those issues were centred around the forward line. Luis Suarez was decisive last season but the team was struggling to find that killer touch without him, but also to play to the forward’s strengths when he was in the team.
The signings of Matheus Cunha and Antoine Griezmann were case in point that Diego Simeone knew a change was necessary. As Diario AS have noted, Atleti tried to sign Juventus striker Dusan Vlahovic last summer, settling for Cunha and Griezmann.
Suarez’s lack of mobility has been a major issue but it appears that Joao Felix has taken on the mantle of replacing his contributions. With five goals and two assists in his last seven matches, the Portuguese has provided that instinct in front of goal. The repurposed Felix also has the mobility and ball retention skills required of an Atletico number nine. With Griezmann, Angel Correa, Cunha and Felix, Atleti once again can move forward at pace and rely on runs in behind to aid their attack.
With Manchester City on the horizon next week, Simeone will be relying on an efficient counter attack to give Atleti a chance of progression.