Club Atletico de Madrid, commonly known as Atletico Madrid is one of the most known Spanish Professional football clubs. Atletico is located in Madrid and has a history of more than a century. Los Rojiblancos (Atletico’s Madrid nickname) has recently moved to its new stadium, Wanda Metropolitano (which has a capacity of almost 68.000 attendees). In terms of titles, Atletico Madrid is the third most successful club in La Liga and is among the best teams in Spain.
Atletico Madrid was founded on 1903 in the Spanish capital. During its first years, Atletico was a youth club for Atletico Bilbao fans. But, over the time, Atletico grew up and started working their way up by attracting more and more supporters. Los Rojiblancos won their first La Liga title almost 35 years after their creation (1939/40).
During its 115 years’ history, Atletico Madrid, has won La Liga and Copa del Rey 10 times. Its recent history, has shown that since the turn of the millennium, only two teams managed to finish above Real Madrid and Barcelona and to win the La Liga; Atletico Madrid and Valencia CF. In addition, Atletico has achieved many distinctions in the European competitions. More specifically, it has won so far three Europa League trophies and has also participated in two Champions League finals. Nowadays, Atletico Madrid is known worldwide as one of the best teams in Europe.
The worst period and the reinvention during the last decade
Without any doubt the worst period of its modern history was the relegation during the season 1999/00. During that season, Atletico finished in La Liga’s 19th place by having the lowest winning percentage of its current history, with 23,6%; as it won only 9 out of 38 games. But, the adventure in the Segunda Division didn’t last for many years. The team reinvented and promoted to La Liga; 2 years after the relegation.
During the last decade, Atletico Madrid achieved a lot; in domestic and European competitions. First of all, Atletico won its 10th La Liga title on the season 2013/14 (almost 20 years after its last title). Moreover, it participated in the top European competitions (Champions League and Europa League) with a huge of success. Atletico, won its last two Europa League titles and played twice in the Champions League final during the last decade.
The reformer coach, Diego Simeone
One of the main reasons of the reinvention, is Atletico’s head coach; Diego Simeone. Simeone is the head coach since the middle of the season 2011/12. Simeone, who was also a former player at Atletico’s roster for more than 4 years is considered nowadays as one of the best coaches in the club’s history. As a coach, he changed the football style and the philosophy of the team as well as its formation. The reformer of Los Rojiblancos, has won so far with Atletico Madrid; 2 Europa League titles, 1 La Liga and 1 Copa Del Rey and last but not least 2 UEFA Super Cup titles. He was also the head coach in the two Champions League finals during the last five years; where Atletico was the runner-up team. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most successful coaches in its history.
At the moment the team of coach Simeone is in the second place of La Liga (only one point behind Barcelona), by having the best defensive line and aims to win its 11th La Liga trophy. Moreover, in the Champions League, it has already managed to proceed to the next round (round of 16) aiming to go as far as it can and why not win for the first time of its history the champions league trophy.
Data Collection & Methodology
For the purpose of this research, the researcher collected Atletico’s Madrid historical data from La Liga within the last decade. The data analysis, focused on some important indicators, such as goals scored and goals received, as well as its final position and points collected in the league. In general, the outcome of the research is focused on Atletico’s overall performance. Moreover, another part of the analysis consists of the improvements that have been applied during Diego Simeone’s years in the team.
The second part of the research, analyzes thoroughly Atletico’s performance in the European competitions during the last three years. More specifically during the mentioned years-span Atletico participated in two European finals. As, it was the runner up team in the 2015/16 Champions League and the winner of the 2017/18 Europa League title.
The last part of the research, is about a predictive analysis for Atletico’s Madrid performance in the upcoming seasons in La Liga. Therefore, it was used the well-known predictive method of ‘Forecast’ for the analysis.
Results & Discussion
To begin with, the following analysis describes Atletico’s Madrid performance in La Liga during the last decade. The indicators that were analyzed are: the number of wins, loss and draws as well as Atletico’s final position and the collected points per season. Furthermore, the analysis that focused with the goals scored and conceded per season, is linked with the coach Diego Simeone and his philosophy and strategy during the last years.
First of all, the following graph depicts Atletico’s overall stats, starting from the season 2008/09.
As it can be observed, Atletico has in almost every season more number of wins than the number of losses and draws. The only season that the number of losses were more than the related number of wins was during the season 2009/10 were Atletico finished in the 9th position, which was the worst place during the 10 years’ span.
Without any doubt the season 2013/14, that Atletico won its 10th La Liga title (as it can be observed on the graph above), Atletico its best perfroamnce; by winning 28 games and losing only 4 games, while 6 games ended in a draw. During the last 6 years, Atletico Madrid is always among the best three teams in La Liga. More specifically, in a percentage of 66,6% Atletico finished in the third place, while once time finished in the first place (2013/14) and once time in the second place (2017/18).
Based on the points collected, Atletico reached its pick during the season that won its 10th title, by gathering 90 points in the end. While two years later, it collected 88 points in one of the most thrilling ends in La Liga (Barcelona won the title with 91 points, Real Madrid was in the second place with 90 points and Atletico in the third place with 88 points). An interesting remark is that, Simeone is collecting every year with Atletico Madrid more than 75 points.
The last part of the analysis consists of the goals scored and conceded per season during the last decade. Based on the following graph it can be observed that the goal difference changed dramatically after the season 2012/13. The main reason, for this observation is Diego Simeone and his philosophy that impacted and changed the performance of the club.
Simeone subscribes to the theory that a team which concedes fewer goals, wins more games. Due to that theory and as it can be observed on the graph above, Atletico Madrid changed its strategy. Atletico started concentrated more on how it will not receive a goal and keep its clean sheet.
Diego Simeone changed Atletico’s Madrid philosophy
In general, rarely has one man transformed a club so quickly and emphatically, as Diego Simeone. Started from season 2012/13 it can be stated, that Atletico became a more brutal defensive team. Atletico had the best defensive line in five out of six last seasons in La Liga. The only exception was in 2014/15, where Atletico received more goals than Barcelona, that won in the end the title. Simeone has a specific defensive strategy and that’s why Atletico is one of the best defensive teams in the world. Usually, Simeone encourages the opponents to have the ball and keep the ball possession, but never in areas that might be dangerous for Atletico. Atletico Madrid defend deep and narrow, by playing with four central midfielders. Simeone, usually prefers a 4-4-2 formation for his team in which every player have to contribute defensively and play according to the situation. Based to Simeone’s philosophy, the players choose particular moments to press and when the situation is perfect, they press really hard. These moments of pressure are generally low-risk/high-reward and the opponent player has a minimal chance to escape from the pressure. It can be compared that his players work as a “wolfpack” in the field, ready to defense and pressure the opponent all together under a specific strategy. But, the role of the wingbacks is one of the most important role in the field for Simeone. He wants from his wingbacks to be able to get up and down the field and contribute to attacking and defensive phases of the game by having high stamina work rate and positioning. Simeone, apart from the formation is giving a lot of attention on his player’s psychology and motivation. For him, a football game is more than just a game and this is what he also analyzes to his players by building a winning mentality on them. Atletico Madrid is considered nowadays as one of the most brutal teams in Europe and Simeone as one of the best coaches in the world.
Lastly, one of the most exciting aspect of Simeone’s success is that the bulk of Atletico’s key players are on their best age. Players such as; Koke, Griezmann, Saul Niguez, Angel Correa, Jose Gimenez, Thomas Lemar and Jan Oblak are all under the age of 27, while Atletico’s Madrid average age in the roster is almost 26.5 years old.
Atletico Madrid in Europe
The second part of the research, consists of a short analysis about Atletico’s performance during the last three years in European competitions. During the mentioned period, Atletico won the Europa League title in 2017/18 and was the runner-up team in 2016/17 Champions League final. The analysis is focused on the cards received, shots tried and the goals scored and conceded.
As it can be observed, Atletico has in almost every year almost 20 yellow cards and at least 1 red card (apart from the season 2016/17 where it had zero red cards). In general, Atletico Madrid followed its same brutal defensive strategy in European competitions as well.
Based on the shots tried per season and goals scored and conceded, the following graph presents its performance:
In almost every year of the mentioned span, Atletico has the double number of the goals scored than the goals received. Last year, that it won the Europa League, Atletico scored 22 goals 15 European matches.
Lastly, concerning the shots tried, it can be observed that Atletico has a decrease number of shots tried off target. Last year, in 15 matches it tried only 64 shots off target, meaning 4.3 shots off target per game. The corresponding value for shots on target was almost 4.6 shots per game.
A “Forecasted” Prediction for Atletico Madrid in La Liga
Based on the historical data that were analyzed thoroughly above (position, points collected etc), the researcher used the mathematical method “Forecast” to predict Atletico’s Madrid position in the upcoming years in La Liga. “Forecast” is a method which is used commonly for predictions and has a confidence level of 95%.
As it can be observed, Atletico will remain in the top-three teams in La Liga for the next two seasons by having many chances to win its 11th La Liga title in the upcoming years.
- Atletico Madrid average age in the roster is 26.5 years old.
- In 1999/00 Atletico Madrid relegated to Segunda Division. That season finished in the 19th place of La Liga by having a very low winning percentage almost 23,6%; which is the lowest winning percentage of its current history.
- In 2013/14 Atletico Madrid won its 10th La Liga title by having its highest winning percentage, 74% during the last decade.
- During the 6 last seasons, Atletico was always in the top3 teams of La Liga’s final table. More specifically in 5 out of the 6 mentioned seasons, it also managed to had the best defensive line in the league.
- Diego Simeone, reformed the team by making Atletico one of the best defensive teams in Europe and driving them to many domestic and European distinctions.
- Atletico Madrid is predicted to be among the favorite teams for La Liga title within the next two seasons.
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