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Atletico players have been a solid bunch in the defence.
Atletico players have been a solid bunch in the defence.

Defence helps push the charge of Falcao and Atletico Madrid

Falcao's goals make news, but Atletico have conceded fewer goals than Barcelona and scored more than Real Madrid.

Radamel Falcao deserves the headlines and superlatives, but Atletico Madrid's stunning start to the season is about more than the Colombian star.

Diego Simeone, the coach, likes his teams to play like he did. He was a tough midfielder who hassled opponents and didn't give them time on the ball.

He has successfully got Atletico replicating his style while instilling an indomitable belief lacking in generations of previous sides at the Vicente Calderon. Atletico always had enough talent in their teams, but seldom enough belief to excel in the league.

The first thing Simeone did when he arrived last December was to organise the defence. The ensuing stability means Diego Godin and Miranda have been two ever present defenders, while Juanfran, Filipe and the goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois have missed just one game this season.

The stability of a settled back four provides the bedrock for attacking stars like Falcao to excel. Falcao's goals make news, but Atletico have conceded fewer goals than Barcelona and scored more than Real Madrid.

In beating Osasuna at the weekend, Atletico set a club record of 23 games unbeaten. They have won their past 12 games in all competitions and head the table alongside Barcelona with eight wins and a draw from their nine league games.

They are still eight points clear of Real Madrid, whom they meet at the start of December. Atletico have a terrible record in derbies. Is that about to change?

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