There is no doubt in my mind what makes Atletico Madrid such a potent team on their day; their strikeforce. Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero are both still with the Madrid club despite heavy speculation that they might move to pastures new. Forlan has been linked with Real Madrid and Aguero with Manchester United. With Benzema moving to Madrid, Forlan’s move seems unlikely but in turn it could see United’s pursuit of Aguero gather pace after missing out on Benzema.
However, it seems that these two players will line up in the Emirates Cup and personally I believe it will be a major test for Arsenal’s back line. Forlan scored 32 goals alone last season with Aguero a very good foil with 17. Together they formed a partnership that most teams in La Liga feared; due to the mixture of skill of Aguero and lethal finishing of Forlan – yes it is the same guy that flopped at Man Utd. Arsenal fans have been quick to judge Vermaelen in recent pre season games but I think facing these two guys will be the sternest test he faces before the Premier League season begins.
In midfield Atleti have a good array of creative players. Out wide Maxi Rodriguez and Simao provide the trickery and invention that brought about a large amount of the teams goals. They are given something of a license to play with two out of Paulo Assuncao, Raul Garcia and Maniche playing deep in the middle of the park to break up opposition attacks. Assuncao received 15 yellow cards last season which suggests they have muscle in their team as well as skill, even if that muscle is reckless!
Madrid’s side is quite a young one and the defence is a mixture of experience and youth. Although Mariano Pernia is the senior man of the defence at 32, he has shared left back duties with Antonio Lopez (27). Johnny Heitinga was the mainstay of the defence last year and he began to show the potential he had in his early years at Ajax. Alongside him Luis Perea and Pablo both played their fair share of games. Madrid have a fine array of players going forward and the defence is beginning to get to a level to really support it. 57 goals conceded in 38 La Liga games last season suggests improvements can still be made but progress is under way.
At.Madrid will be interesting participants in this season’s Emirates Cup due to their ability to score goals. With each goal equalling a point gained, Aguero and Forlan could make the difference in a tournament like this. With shots on target now the deciding factor if points, goals scored and goal difference are tied, Atletico are a good bet to do well. If teams can get at them, the Madrid defence will be tested so they may well be of the attitude, “we’ll score one more than you!”
From last season, Madrid will most likely line up as follows