Warning signs are there for Simeone
Despite turning their poor early-season form around to qualify for the Champions League last season, Diego Simeone’s side are on the decline ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
Start with a glance at their goal-scoring numbers. Atletico Madrid have never been known for their exploits in front of the opposition’s goal as it is their defensive prowess that has allowed them to gatecrash the European elite on many occasions over the past decade.
But one still expects them to score more goals than 7th place Granada. Not only did they didn’t manage to do that but Atleti also managed less goals last season (54) than any other ‘top six’ side across Europe’s top four major leagues.
The goal-scoring numbers are unflattering even by their own low standards. In each of their previous full seasons under their Argentine manager, Atletico has managed to score more goals than they did in the 2019/20 La Liga season.
That isn’t where the bad news end for Simeone. The lack of goals is partly to blame for the 70 points Atleti mustered last season – enough to see them finish 3rd in La Liga but still lower than what Los Colchoneros managed to get in all of their previous full campaigns under the Argentine.
Diego Costa’s form since Atletico re-signed him from Chelsea for €57m is especially poor. The Spain international’s injuries have shielded him from the criticism of fans but one still expects him to do better than scoring 10 goals in 51 appearances.
Last season was especially poor for Costa as despite playing nine more games than the previous campaign, the 31-year-old forward managed the same number of goals (5). Little wonder then that Simeone is so keen to bring in Luis Suarez from Barcelona.
Angel Correa’s lack of goalscoring exploits goes under the radar due to the bellicosity of Costa but he too has been poor over the last two seasons. What makes the situation worse for the Spaniard is that unlike the former Chelsea forward, he can blame neither injuries nor age for his poor form.
The 25-year-old played 44 times for Atleti last season but only managed to score 7 goals in return, with his overall form as poor last campaign as in the one before that in which he played five more matches (49) but scored two fewer goals (5).
Although they have spent more than £500m on new signings since 2017, Atleti haven’t been able to make the most of new faces at the club.
Take the example of Thomas Lemar. The France international was snapped up by Atleti for €70m in June 2018 after he had an excellent few years at French outfit Monaco. Many of his new club’s fans expected the 24-year-old to display the same form as he did in the 2016/17 season for his former side.
But that wasn’t going to be the case as, after an average first season at Wanda Metropolitana – in which he scored 4 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions, Lemar had a disastrous second season in Spain in which he failed to manage a single goal or an assist.
Similar was the case with the new Juventus signing Alvaro Morata. Atleti snapped him up for £58m last summer but the striker was unable to pay back the trust his new side had put in him, scoring only 12 La Liga goals before being unceremoniously shipped off to Turin.
All these stats show that while Los Rojiblancos conceded fewer goals last season than in any of their previous campaigns under Simeone, they are not the force they once were.
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