Atletico Madrid look set to have secured the signature of Colombian forward Jackson Martinez after the club agreed to a €35m deal with Porto on Tuesday. The 28-year-old joined Porto from Chiapas in 2012 and scored 21 league goals last season. Add to him the acquisition of the talented Argentine Luciana Vietto, Diego Simeone has built a lethal line of forwards, players who actually make Atletico real title contenders.
Atleti have a history of talented strikers as many of the game’s best forwards have wire the red and blue shirt. These forwards include the likes of Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Fernando Torres. Fernando Torres is back at the club after a stint in England with Liverpool and Chelsea. Forlan has recently retired from International football after an illustrious career while Aguero and Costa are two of the best strikers present in the English Premier League at the moment. Falcao also moved to Manchester United last season on a year-long loan spell but his time at Old Trafford was regularly obstructed by injuries and is reported to be close to a move to United’s arch rivals Chelsea. The names of Jackson Martinez and Vietto just add to the rich South American attacking legacy that the Vincente Calderon holds.
With the arrival of the recent summer signings, Diego Simeone can line up an attacking front of Martinez, Vietto and Griezmann. This lineup could be used in a 4-3-3 formation or in a 4-2-3-1. The three attackers could also adapt to Simeone’s characteristic 4-4-2 formation with two up front and one out wide, giving Los Colchoneros the sort of winger they’ve lacked.
Atletico Madrid made history in the 2013-14 season when they secured a memorable La Liga crown by playing a draw with Barcelona at the Camp Nou on the final day. Diego Costa was one of the vital reasons for that result as he was everything that Simeone needed in his team – an aggressive hard working counterattacking master who fitted perfectly under his manager’s game plans.
Few months forward and Atleti had to a face the bitter reality of European Football. Their financial standing among the top European clubs took away from them the ingredients that propelled the club to its one of its biggest achievements. Diego Costa along with Thibaut Courtois and Filipe Luis departed to west London, and Simeone was left to scramble in the transfer market for a replacement.
They brought in the Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic as a replacement for Diego Costa. The forward is a decent striker, a target man who is exquisite in aerial abilities and a decent attacker, but he wasn’t what Diego Simeone builds his team around.
The Croatian had his limitations. He lacked speed and mobility which forced Simeone to make some tweaks in his well-established game plan. The counter-attacking wasn’t as swift as before and they started to pass the ball more patiently. This change in identity resulted in their finished trophy less season. Although the striker managed to score 20 goals but they were in vain as no end product came out of the tactical switch.
However with Martinez and Vietto, Simeone has everything he could ask for. The 28 year old Columbian is in his prime years, standing as a fully developed and established forward who won’t be moulded or changed. He possesses all the qualities of an ‘Atleti’ striker – lethal pace, power, deadly finishing skill and size i.e. all the ingredients of the counter attack strategy around which the Red and Blue’s game plan is based on. And he’s a man arriving at the Vicente Calderon having scored 92 goals in 132 appearances at Porto.
Accompanying him will be Argentinean Luciana Vietto from Villarreal. The Argentinian, who’s worked under Simeone before at Racing Club, is a pacy, slight-bodied forward comfortable playing out wide or through the middle. He possesses fancy footwork and dribbling abilities and has scored 18 goals for the yellow submarines last season.
With the inclusion of these two forwards in the Atleti’s attack partnered with the French International Griezmann who enjoyed a highly successful debut season at the Calderon, we have a front three who is dynamic, talented and perfectly capable of leading the team to silverware. Simeone creates a team with defence as it’s main strength. They defend as a unit and are deadly on the break. The current forwards perfectly complement this game plan and present the club with a revamped attack that is capable of challenging at the top most level.
Diego Simeone is a tactical genius and with the recent summer purchases he is shaping up for the 2015-16 season with might. And the coming Primera Division season could turn out to be very interesting with at least three teams contending for the title. Add to that, the rise of Valencia and Sevilla last season, the La Liga fans are in for a thrilling season for sure.