Could Griezmann security push Atletico to Champions League glory?
Can Simeone and co kick on?
Antoine Griezmann was the focus of all the headlines over the weekend for two main reasons.
The 27-year-old forward helped France see off Australia in his country’s opening group game at the World Cup. And he also dismissed speculation linking himself with a move to Barcelona by confirming his commitment to Atletico Madrid.
The less said about Griezmann’s video extending his four-year stay in the Spanish capital the better. But the future does look bright for both club and player. After years of selling their main talents, Los Rojiblancos have finally been able to hold onto one of their prize assets.
That’s no mean feat for a club which has become accustomed to being bullied in the transfer market. And it could provide the impetus they need to push onto the next level and become a genuine force both at home and abroad. In the short term, though, it’s the Champions League that should provide the more realistic target for Diego Simeone’s men.
Atletico were dumped out in the group stages of last year’s competition before going onto lift the Europa League. They’re 14/1 to return to the UCL with a bang by landing a maiden triumph.
Everyone already knows the ability Atletico have within their ranks. Their defence is one of the tightest and best drilled around. The midfield oozes both creativity and tenacity, while their forward line is stocked with goals and will improve further for the addition of Thomas Lemar from Monaco.
With the quality of player they have and the security that Griezmann’s agreement gives them, they look a good outside bet to go deep during the 2018-19 edition of the Champions League.
The La Liga club no longer have any adverse worries hanging over them either. Simeone’s short-term future is secure, as is Griezmann’s. They’ll only improve in their second season at the Wanda Metropolitano too.
Add in the genuine world class front pairing the club now have at their disposal for the long-term, and you get a sense that something could be building in the Spanish capital.
And with the style that the Argentine implements and demands from his players, you get the feeling Atletico are better suited to a European campaign than a 38-game domestic season. Two UCL runner-up berths and a semi-final appearance in the last five years are testament to that.
Last season didn’t quite go to plan for Atletico at Europe’s top table. But Griezmann’s decision to stay could well be the missing piece of the puzzle next season as Los Rojiblancos bid to end three seasons of Real Madrid dominance.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing