It will be a great season for Atletico Madrid.
Diego Simeone’s team was devastating for long periods last semester and despite a mid-season shake-up that threatened to make everything crash, they ended the season strong and took home the league title.
Now it’s about defending their crown – something Atleti has not succeeded in since 1951 – and they are pulling out all the stops to do so.
They have been linked to a number of new signings, including a certain Frenchman who has struggled to hit the ground in Barcelona, while those in Rodrigo de Paul already have one in the door.
This is how Atleti can realistically line up when the 2021/22 season begins.
GK: Jan Oblak
Jan Oblak with another absolutely VITAL penalty for Atletico Madrid! ?
A great chance early for Sevilla, but Slovenia shows again why he is one of the best in the world? pic.twitter.com/SmZtilMCC3
– Premier Sports? (@PremierSportsTV) April 4, 2021
The best keeper on the planet? Up for debate. One of the best keepers on the planet? No questions asked.
Slovenia’s importance to Atletico only grows with the years, and at the age of 28 he is currently at the peak of his very formidable strengths. Even if someone could afford him, Atleti would scold the madman for letting him go.
CB: Stefan Savic
Savic has become one of Simeone’s most trusted players / Soccrates Images / Getty Images
Savic’s flight dominance was a big part of what won the league for Atletico last season, and if Simeone chooses to start with the three backs who helped him turn things around, then he is almost a guaranteed start.
After being part of Manchester City’s title-winning squad in 2012, Savic has now won leagues in three different countries, and his experience can be crucial to Atleti’s hopes of retaining La Liga.
CB: Jose Maria Gimenez
Gimenez during Athletics’ victory over Huesca / Denis Doyle / Getty Images
Injuries once again hampered Gimenez last season and twice his momentum slowed just as he started.
But for a spell in December and January, he was one of the best defenders in La Liga, and Simeone hopes he can put his fitness problems behind him and rediscover that form.
CB: Mario Hermoso
Hermoso claimed a trophy after Atletico won La Liga / Soccrates Images / Getty Images
Hermoso has dipped in and out of the Atletico team since his arrival from Espanyol in 2019, but started each of his last five matches as they took 13 points from 15 to get the title over the line.
Hermoso’s versatility and intelligence make him a valuable asset for Simeone, either in midfield or on the left.
RWB: Hector Bellerin
With Kieran Trippier likely to join Manchester United, there is room for a new right-back in Simeone’s squad, and Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin is one they have been linked with in the recent past.
The 26-year-old has made a lot of noise about having a fresh start away from north London and 90 Minutes reported back in April that the Gunners are ready to sell. Moving back to his native Spain – with no less Simeone’s champion – may just be the ticket to reviving his stagnant career.
Koke is Atletico’s captain / Soccrates Images / Getty Images
With Saul Niguez apparently walking towards the front door, captain Koke’s influence has never been more important to Atletico than it is now.
His leadership and perseverance in the middle of the park always maintain high standards, and even after starting every match for Spain on the way to the Euro 2020 semi-finals, he will probably not rest much when he reports for before the season.
CM: Rodrigo de Paul
?? # ¡#BienvenidoDePaul!
?? @Rodridepaul ya es rojiblanco!
? https: //t.co/bnzmrjQXsy pic.twitter.com/0T0edjUdl4
– ❤️ ?? CAMPAIGNS? ❤️? (@Atleti) July 12, 2021
A new arrival from Udinese and a compatriot from Simeone, De Paul will bring creativity to the Atletico engine room.
He is fresh from the Copa America win and will be champion to get a little more silver at Wanda Metropolitano this season.
LWB: Renan Lodi
Lodi hopes to earn a starting spot at Atletico this season / Angel Martinez / Getty Images
It could just as well be Yannick Carrasco starting at the bottom left, but Lodi is slowly starting to make his mark in La Liga.
He proved his worth to Brazil in the Copa America and won a starting place from Alex Sandro, and he will do the same when he reports back to service in Madrid.
AM: Marcos Llorente
Lo hicimos juntos. We are together. ¡¡CAMPEONESSSSSSSSSS !! # AúpaAtleti? ⚪️ @ LuisSuarez9 pic.twitter.com/XgHZtkwknZ
– Marcos Llorente (@marcosllorente) 22 May 2021
Llorente has invented himself as the perfect all-around midfielder under Simeone, and it doesn’t seem to matter where he plays.
We have seen him star everywhere from right-back to center-forward since he crossed the Madrid gap two years ago, but he is at his best further up the pitch and gets beyond the attackers to cause chaos in the box.
CF: Antoine Griezmann
????????? – Antoine Griezmann’s agent has met a handful of Premier League sites to discuss a potential transfer! ?
– 90min (@ 90min_Football) 17 July 2021
Atleti are in talks to bring Griezmann back to the club after two tumultuous seasons in Barcelona, and the Frenchman will be hopeful that life under Simeone can bring him back to his best.
The circumstances he left under were controversial, but with 133 Atleti goals to his name, he is their all-time top scorer – so it probably won’t take much for him to be forgiven.
CF: Luis Suarez
Suarez’s strength seemed to wane before he signed for Atletico a year ago, but he rediscovered some of his very best form to kick them to La Liga last term.
He netted 21 goals during his debut season at Wanda Metropolitano, and even though he turns 35 in January, he still has a season or two of hitting the Rojiblancos’ goals to look forward to.