Our man in the Spanish capital, Phil Kitromilides, takes a look at what chance Diego Simeone’s men have of repeating their incredible run to the final despite some departures
Every year a dark horse emerges in the battle to win the Champions League and last season Diego Simeone took a side which had dramatically underperformed in the tournament for decades to within seconds of becoming champions of Europe.
Atletico Madrid last year were built upon a staggeringly good defensive unit while Diego Costa proved himself to be a finisher of continental class up front, earning a big money move to the Premier League as a result.
Also on the departures list from last season are goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and left back Filipe Luis, yet the core of the back four – the centre-back pairing of Miranda and Godin – remains and will serve the side in good stead.
Whether they can repeat their heroics of last season will be seen in time, but as champions of Spain and runners-up in the tournament they will now be treated with even more respect by opponents.
This new-found status is also reflected in their price to win the competition, with bet365 offering them at 20/1 (21.00) which, for a side that has reached two finals in 40 years, seems relatively low.
Los Rojiblancos have, however, been handed a group they should certainly be able to qualify from with Juventus, Olympiakos and Malmo their opponents in the first stage of the Champions League.
To win matches Atleti are going to need goals and the man with the challenge of replacing Costa is Mario Mandzukic.
The Croatian forward has plenty of Champions League experience with both Bayern Munich and Dinamo Zagreb, having netted 13 times in the competition, and is priced at 40/1 (41.00) to be the Champions League top scorer.