After witnessing Diego Simeone thrive in La Liga despite the club’s penny-pinching habits in the transfer market for several years, it was inevitable that there would be a slump at some point and it is finally occurring this season.

Even so, that is not meant to be any sort of criticism aimed at a club which is run by responsible individuals who do not spend beyond their means.

And it is also a clear sign of Simeone’s competence that a squad on a shoestring budget has managed to give Real Madrid and Barcelona more than a run for their money on a consistent basis in La Liga.

In addition to that, Atletico has followed up what felt like perennial Europa League success at some stage with perennial Champions League exploits after reaching at least the quarterfinals in the past four seasons.

Following the exits of Diego Costa and Thibaut Courtois on the back of a sublime and nearly perfect 2013/14 season, you would have been forgiven to expect the Madrid-based side to begin crumbling instantly.

After all, the duo were an integral part of a team which had snatched La Liga control away from Barcelona and Real Madrid and gone within minutes of conquering Europe in the 2014 Champions League final.

That Atletico Madrid side was perhaps on the verge of overtaking the continent with a refreshing new philosophy of football which saw them defend manfully and attack when it mattered.

However, all good things must come to an end, especially if you are incapable of securing the acquisitions of enough star power to keep up with the Joneses of football.

This is not to imply that the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Jan Oblak who later filled the gaps in Simeone’s team were inferior.

Oblak in particular was perhaps superior to his predecessor but in the absence of Costa, Atletico has been lacking that focal figure in attack which probably cost them a triumph in the 2016 Champions League final.

In a reassessment of Simeone’s squad of today, there is a fine mixture of youth and experience, toppled with a full flow of passion.

However, those qualities are not always enough to see you through competitions which feature opponents who have spent lavishly on special talent like Luis Suarez and company.

Atletico’s struggles this season can be excused because of the sheer working class effort they put into assembling their squad in comparison to the ‘galactico class’ spending which rival clubs have been engaged in.

Jeremy OsbornePost
After witnessing Diego Simeone thrive in La Liga despite the club's penny-pinching habits in the transfer market for several years, it was inevitable that there would be a slump at some point and it is finally occurring this season. Even so, that is not meant to be any sort of criticism aimed at a...