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Is Atletico Madrid The Best Team In Spain?

This was supposed to be the summer when had to watch unveiled as new No 7 (they were keeping the shirt number for him especially) and maybe see Jan Oblak swan off to too.

Instead Griezmann stayed and so did Oblak despite Chelsea’s willingness to pay his buy-out clause.

And not only was Diego Simeone able to keep his best players he also welcomed Monaco flier , Villarreal midfielder Rodri, Milan striker Nikola Kalinic and Sporting winger Gelson Martins.

The underdog narrative might not come so easy to him this season – make no mistake: This Atletico Madrid side can win La Liga.

They might struggle to triumph in Tallinn on Wednesday night in the European Super Cup.

They are only just welcoming back World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa is still struggling for full fitness, while Real Madrid have hit the ground running with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema benefiting from not having had to exert themselves at the Russia World Cup.

But beyond the first piece of silverware of the season, this Atletico side look a match for both Real Madrid and Barcelona both player for player and as a team.

While Real Madrid will have to manage without Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona without Andres Iniesta, Atletico will find it easier to get over the loss of Fernando Torres and Gabi.

With Oblak in goal they have the league’s most difficult to beat keeper. In Godin, Jose Gimenez, Lucas Hernandez and Stefan Savic they have four international options at centre-back, neither Madrid nor Barca can say the same.

They still have Saul and Koke as the heartbeat of the midfield but their talents are augmented by Thomas Partey’s versatility, Rodri’s discipline, and the wing play of Lemar, Martins and Vitolo, who is in his first full season at the club and will improve on last season when he struggled after not being allowed to be registered for the first-half of the campaign.

And in attack Angel Correa and Kalinic will make a fine reserve pairing – providing the Croatia international accepts second billing – and the Costa Griezmann partnership should thrive having survived Barcelona’s best efforts to break it up.

Ultimately Atletico Madrid promised Griezmann almost €10million (£8.9m) more a season than Barcelona were planning to pay him.

Barca might have put more money on the table after Griezmann won the World Cup but their lack of foresight before the tournament and fading powers of persuasion have seen him stay at the club he has served since 2014.

That is another point in Atletico’s favour – this group has been together for a long time now.

Godin arrived in 2010. The captain has accepted a new deal keeping him at the club until 2021 and there will be a decent pay-hike too courtesy in some part to Manchester United’s late attempt to sign him.

Godin is the captain, the leader of course is Simeone. He will not be on the bench on Wednesday night because he is still paying for the red card he received in last season’s Europa League semi-final against Arsenal.

No one in Spain can match Simeone for longevity. He has already seen off four Real Madrid managers, Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane.

He got the better of Mourinho in the 2013 Copa del Rey Cup final and Carlo Ancelotti in the 2014 title race.

On the European stage, however, he was beaten in two European Cup finals first by Ancelotti in 2014 and then by Zidane in 2016.

He can go some way to straightening out that record on Wednesday when he faces Julen Lopetegui for the first time.

But it will not be the end of the world if his side comes out second best in their first encounter.

The marathon season ahead is what really matters and Atletico Madrid look like they have what it takes to go the distance and cross the line first.

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