La Liga: Have Atletico Madrid taken control over Real and Barcelona?

The winner of the second half from Luis Suarez defended Atletico Madrid’s title on a spectacular last day when Diego Simeone’s men finished by two points over rivals Real Madrid.

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Real Valladolid, who has been relegated. It has confirmed Atletico’s impressive victory, with Rojiblancos leading the league almost the entire season. And surviving relegation with 13 points in the last 15.

And with their second league crown under Simeone coming when the two biggest heirs Real and Barcelona are in financial trouble. 

It raises the question of whether the balance of power in Spanish football has taken a significant change.

Ongoing success under Simeone

With eight trophies won in the decade since Simeone’s arrival in the team. This is the most triumphant moment in Atletico history.

Rojiblancos have finished third or more in La Liga for nine consecutive seasons. Previously had not done so for more than three successive years. And have reached two Champions League finals.

In the last four seasons, they have rated the same number of points (77.8 per season) as Real (78.8). 

And winning Saturday’s title clarifies that the gap between the two most prominent. And closest challengers is nowhere near in the past.

Atletico Madrid growing under Diego Simesone (Source: The Irish Times)
Atletico Madrid growing under Diego Simeone (Source: The Irish Times)

In addition to Simeone’s outstanding training, Atletico has achieved its level by spending more money than ever. Especially with the capture of Portuguese star Joao Felix for 126m euros which saw their debt close to £ 1bn.

However, the traditional power has used itself in a highly dark pit in its concerted efforts to hold Atletico. But also to keep up with the new oil-backed club Manchester City and Paris St-Germain.

This explains Real and Barca’s desire to build a relegated European Super League in the hope of raising their funds. And restoring what they consider to be their rightful position. 

But with those plans disrupted and Atletico now celebrating their second La Liga in seven years. A challenging time awaits the two big ones.

Messi and Koeman headline Barca’s summer unknowns

Barca’s lowest end since 2008 came at a crucial time, with the club more than £ 1.1bn in debt. And this week, in need of an urgent $ 100m loans to pay off players’ unpaid salaries.

Re-appointed club president Joan Laporta recently announced the “end of the cycle publicly.” 

Local media reports that almost every player is for sale if the price is right. And coach Ronald Koeman is expected to be sacked despite the club’s steady performance this season.

The club’s legend Xavi has been linked several times to this writing. But speculation about his appointment has recently cooled with outgoing Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick reportedly refusing to move to Laporta in favor of the German national team.

The new Barca coach, whoever he is, will inherit the squad filled with free transfers. Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero of Manchester City. Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon striker Memphis Depay all watching.

Messi and Koeman headline Barca's summer unknowns (Source: India Today)

Most importantly, the question is whether captain Lionel Messi will be ready to continue. The ongoing transition process or refuse a new contract and leave.

Like everything else at Camp Nou, there is considerable uncertainty about Messi’s position at the club. And at the moment, it is hard to imagine that Barca will return to its former glory soon.

Summer of transition for Real?

Real Madrid’s situation is less stressful than Barca’s. But it is not far off.

With debts approaching £ 1bn and club president Florentino Perez due to which they openly oppose the formation of a new European league. The sacked champions are also entering a significant period of change in the stadium.

Rumors have surfaced that manager Zinedine Zidane will be leaving this summer. And legendary captain Sergio Ramos is also on the way after disagreeing on new contracts.

With 30-year-old key players Karim Benzema and Luka Modric, big signing Eden Hazard striving to stay fit for more than two weeks. And no one picking the most extensive winger team and scoring goals. It’s hard to predict how Real could follow next season.

Young home-grown players Miguel, Gutierrez, Antonio Blanco, and Marvin Park have been impressed recently. 

And Zidane’s replacement, who could be a forward. And current B team coach Raul is expected to turn to youth.

Preventing sudden and unexpected financial injections is hard to see how Real or Barca can compete. With signings like Erling Braut Haaland or Kylian Mbappe, they can’t afford it.

All of this playing for young champions Atletico, their team. And their infrastructure in secret looks stable and very stable.

So when the next season starts in August. Perhaps for the first time in live memory. Atletico could be considered the favorites of the title.

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