Atletico Madrid Players Who Real Madrid Must Shut Down
Atletico Madrid head into the Madrid derby with confidence thanks to six successive league victories, a winning start in the Champions League and an unbeaten record in two Supercopa matches with Barcelona.
The sun is shining brightly over the Vicente Calderon at the moment and not for the first time Atletico have a genuine chance of beating arch rivals Real Madrid.
Los Rojiblancos beat Real Madrid in last season's Copa del Rey final—which was played at the Bernabeu—so Diego Simeone's team may even feel they're favourites.
Much of the success is due to an impressive back line. Thibaut Courtois is rapidly staking his case to be thought of as the best goalkeeper in the world, while Diego Godin and Miranda have arguably been La Liga's best centre-back pairing over the last 12 months.
But what of the attack?
Last season it was all about Colombian hit man Radamel Falcao, aka the Tiger. He left in the summer for money men Monaco, but so far the goals haven't followed him out the turnstiles.
If you aren't acquainted with Diego Costa yet, it will only be a matter of time. You will then have to decided whether you love him or hate him? The 24-year-old has scored seven goals in Atleti's opening six league games, but that's just one side of the player the Guardian's Sid Lowe called "Dr Jekyll and Mr Costa":
Diego Costa says that he never takes his work home with him. If he did he might walk through the door, goad the dog with a stick, surreptitiously elbow his wife out of the way on the stairs, shrug his shoulders innocently as she lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom and whisper insults to his children.
The Brazilian has been at the club since 2010 and, to be fair to him, he's mostly showed his better side this season. Following an impressive loan spell at Rayo Vallecano, he returned to Atleti as a more prominent feature last season.
He's now the main feature though, and Real Madrid will have to be wary of the threat he carries—the good ones and the bad ones.
David Villa needs no introduction, especially to Los Blancos, but he deserves one anyway.
Spain's all-time top scorer swapped Barcelona for Atletico Madrid this summer after falling out of favour in Catalonia for a fee which may rise to around €4.5 million if he stays in the Spanish capital for three years.
His first goal—which was celebrated widly—came against Barca in the Supercopa, and two more have followed in the league.
Real boss Carlo Ancelotti will be aware that leaving this predatory striker in any sort of space could prove fatal.
Atletico Madrid's 21-year-old midfielder Koke is slowly starting to receive the recognition his work deserves.
Simeone has the luxury of using him across arrange of midfield positions—he even played right-back for Spain recently—and Koke obliges with impressive performances wherever he's playing.
According to Squawka, he created over 80 chances in La Liga last season, so stopping him will be key to cutting off the supply line to Villa and Costa.
Also providing the openings for Villa and Costa to grab the headlines is wily Turkish play maker Arda Turan.
The Metro reported that Liverpool and Arsenal were interested in the 26-year-old over the summer, so it was quite the coup for Atletico to hold on to a player who can play wide in a 4-4-2 formation or anywhere across the three in a 4-2-3-1.
With the duo of Gabi and Mario Suarez rarely associated with particular attacking prowess, that honour is largely distributed the way of Turan and Koke—Madrid beware.
While the four above will carry Simeone's main hopes of winning the Madrid derby this weekend, the Argentinian does have a mix of talent he can turn to on the bench.
Young Brazilian forward Leo Baptistao arrived from Rayo Vallecano this summer, and while injuries have halted his progress slightly in 2013, his potential remains huge.
Adrian, who has been in and out of form, remains at the club, alongside two players at opposite ends of their careers: Cristian 'Cebolla' Rodriguez and Oliver Torres, who both offer different and exciting alternatives.
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