For years the casual English football fan has berated La Liga for its lack of competitiveness, with the duopoly of Barcelona & Real Madrid often winning the league. But every decade or so, a challenger emerges from the midst of obscurity. The early ’00s saw Deportivo La Coruña & Valencia appear as competitors for the league, winning three titles in five years between them. Barcelona & Real Madrid then regained control, with nine titles in nine years. The pair had built themselves around two of the greatest goalscorers to ever play the game; Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and the title looked all set to be a tug of war between them for another decade. But a contender had emerged; Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid.
His team were able to do the seemingly impossible, claiming La Liga. Simeone was rightly applauded; winning the league on a comparatively tiny budget represented one of the most incredible managerial feats of all-time. His team brought a unique blend of aggression and intensity, technical and tactical ability. But when a club overachieves, the vultures circle, and Atlético lost three of their most important players; Filipe Luís, Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois, all to Chelsea.