It has been almost ten years since the La Liga crown was last lifted by a team other than the two giant clubs in the League — Real Madrid and Barcelona. While the financial might and support enjoyed by these clubs cannot be eclipsed by any team in the country, the “other” Madrid team are doing the impossible this season by competing for the title and staying in the thick of the three-way battle after the completion of 21 games.
While only goal difference separates Atletico Madrid from Barcelona at the top of the table, the team leads Real by a solitary point and already owns the bragging rights in the city, having defeated them earlier in the season. Diego Simeone‘s team plays with discipline and a sense of pride that is enabling them to overcome financial barriers and challenge the big guns at the top.
The team lost hit-man Radamel Falcao to Monaco at the beginning of the season to a record transfer fee but has done smart business in replacing him with Diego Costa and David Villa, the latter acquired from Barcelona for a very small transfer fee.
Atletico’s real turning point this season could be their ability to hold on to Costa in the midst of vigorous interest from clubs around the continent in the January transfer window. The player’s performances even caught the eye of Spanish national team coach Vicente del Bosque who successfully convinced him to play for Spain despite Costa being a citizen of Brazil. Atletico has been in fantastic form even in the Champions League this season and face an exciting knock-out round against Serie A giants AC Milan.
It would be a refreshing change to the La Liga if Atletico could go all the way this season and it would provide a welcome break from the cliche that has been the League in the last decade. Disproving the notion that money itself would bring trophies would be the best message to the world that Atletico could deliver.