x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Radamel 'The Tiger' Falcao is on prowl for Atletico Madrid

Unbeaten in 18 games in all competitions, Atletico boast the league's top scorer and the most in-form centre-forward.

Falcao has proved to be a perfect addition to the cash-strapped club this season.
Falcao has proved to be a perfect addition to the cash-strapped club this season.

Atletico Madrid fans have reason to cheer with Falcao justifying the club's overhaul, writes Andy Mitten

The Primera Liga table does not make uncomfortable reading for everyone in Madrid.

Real Madrid are sixth, eight points behind Barcelona after just six matches, but Atletico, in second, have won five and drawn one.

Atletico also won the European Super Cup by hammering the European champions Chelsea, following on from their second Europa League triumph in three years in May.

It gets better. Unbeaten in 18 games in all competitions, Atletico boast the league's top scorer, the Colombian Radamel Falcao, football's most in-form centre-forward.

Atletico have fielded great forwards before: Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan in recent times alone, but Falcao is scoring at a quicker rate than them all.

Atletico have also become accustomed to losing those talents, though they have not been slow to reinvest. Aguero was sold for €48 million (Dh227.9m) and they reinvested €40m of that into Falcao, 26. It looked good business from the start.

A thigh injury kept the player fans call "The Tiger" out of Sunday's game at winless Espanyol, but his teammates ground out a 1-0 victory against a backdrop of angry home fans.

If a top team can win tough away games without their best player then it could be the hallmark of a title winning side.

But fans would do well to not get carried away. Atletico have not won the league since their 1996 league and cup double and success for Spain's third best-supported team this season would be a top-four finish, especially as their wage bill is less than a quarter of those spent by the big two.

What makes their run remarkable is that they have done it while the club have been forced to make cutbacks on the uneven slope that is Spanish football. Since that Falcao signing, they have sold more top players and loaned more players in than they have signed.

Thanks to being run in a short-sighted and unpredictable manner for much of the last three decades, Atletico have brought much of their problems and debts on themselves, so it is a great credit to the coach Diego Simeone, who took over in December, that they are excelling on the pitch.

 

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