Diego Simeone had warned in pre-season that he faced his biggest challenge at Atletico Madrid this year.
He called for patience during their transitional cycle after having the squad overhauled throughout the summer.
They’re now six points off Real Madrid and Barcelona, but it was to be expected given how much changed in the transfer window.
Atleti‘s 22 goals from 20 games highlights how desperately they’re missing Griezmann. In his five years at the club, he became their fifth highest ever goalscorer, and his absence is felt.
Only time will tell if Joao Felix can go on to win the Ballon d’Or someday, but he needs time to become a real star. He only has one season behind him and his price tag of 127 million euros will weigh on him.
The striker has struggled for goals this season, but Simeone continues to back him. His four goals against Real Madrid in the summer suggested he had goals in him, but they haven’t been seen thus far in LaLiga Santander.
Despite splashing 240 million euros last summer, Los Rojiblancos are still trying to find a new spine having lost Griezmann, Rodrigo Hernandez and Lucas Hernandez. The three left when their release clauses were met, and neither Joao Felix, Marcos Llorente nor Mario Hermoso have filled the voids.
Kieran Trippier, Felipe Monteiro, Mario Hermoso and Renan Lodi are a new backline that are still finding their feet together, with the likes of Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic both out through injury at present. Only Jan Oblak remains.
Atleti were known for being hard to beat and solid. But this season Simeone has tried to evolve things somewhat, though the results haven’t come as he’d have liked.
Diego Godin‘s exit didn’t only hurt the defence but the dressing room as well. He followed Gabi Fernandez, Fernando Torres, Tiago Mendes and Raul Garcia out the door, and Atletico are missing leaders of their kind.
If Atletico are to become a prestigious global brand, then they can’t afford to miss out on playing in the Champions League. Finishing in the top four is a must for Simeone.