Scouting Real Madrid's Competition: Atlético de Madrid

Denis Doyle

It's hard to know how good Falcao really is. Some people say he is the world's third best player, while others are not so enthusiastic. What is true is that he could be on his way out of Atlético Madrid to join an even bigger club like Chelsea or even Real Madrid. He's the heart and soul of this Atlético team, coach Cholo Simeone knows it and that's why his team plays for him.

Careful, because this could be the time Atlético Madrid beats Real. Simeone's team is already eight points ahead of Mourinho's, but he's not only winning. Atleti is playing really well also. They lost Diego, who was on loan from Wolfsburg, but they aren't missing the Brazilian playmaker a single bit.

Left back Filipe Luis is finally living up to his true potential. He's been key in creating chances for his teammates, but he's also defending quite well. Juanfran joined the team two years ago as a winger, but Simeone has moved him to the right back position, and that's where he's found his best level as a footballer. He's even made his debut on the Spanish National team.

Nobody knew Miranda and Godín were this great. Both of them are scoring goals off set-pieces, but most importantly, they are defending really well in front of Courtois' goal. The Belgian goalkeeper will have a very good career at Chelsea whenever Cech decides to retire, but meanwhile he's performing really well on his loan to Atlético.

Simeone is known to be a counterattacking coach, but Atlético is playing offensive football. His links to Mourinho's style of play are obvious, and it's sure that the Portuguese coach enjoys watching Atlético play. Even Gabi and Mario Suárez are playing well! The first one wasn't really great with Zaragoza, but he's found his place in Simeone's system. Suárez was a mess with Manzano, even though he was young enough to develop. Now, he's the key in Atlético Madrid's midfield.

Upfront, Atlético usually plays with Raúl García, Arda Turan, Adrián and Falcao. Raúl García's workrate is really interesting, but he isn't a very creative player. Instead, he usually likes to leave the ball to his teammates, but he can also surprise the defensive line with his physical play. Turan and Adrián are very technical. Adrián was once called "the Spanish Benzema", and while it is true that his game hasn't improved from his brilliant 2011, he's still a really good second striker. Turan is skillful but he also knows how to work defensively, so he could provide an interesting challenge to Real Madrid's midfield.

And Falcao. One of the best pure strikers in the game. He shoots with his left or right foot and he's also brilliant in the aerial side of the game. But he isn't only a killer. He is also able to help his teammates creating good chances by passing the ball after receiving it with his back to the goal. Even though Atleti has improved a lot, it seems that Falcao belongs to another level. He should clearly start for a Champions League contender, that's where the Colombian striker belongs. If he's to join Real Madrid, no fan of los blancos should complain about the move.

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