Football Manager 2018: Atletico Madrid Guide, Player Ratings & Tactics

One of Europe’s finest clubs, but with a transfer ban and limited finances can you lead Atletico Madrid back to the top of Spanish football on FM?

Alastair Pusinelli by Alastair Pusinelli

Atletico Madrid were the first side in ten years to break the Spanish duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2014. With Los Colchoneros having nowhere near the finances of Real and Barcelona it was a magnificent achievement, but any Atleti fans thinking more successes will follow are perhaps pushing their luck. Three and half season have followed with no more silverware. Two trips to the Champions League in that period showed that they are still amongst Europe’s best, but there is now an overwhelming sense of change at the new Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

A transfer ban has thwarted the club’s plans, and it now looks like star man Antoine Griezmann will leave the club. Can you grab the club by the scruff of the neck, haul them through this difficult season and lead them back towards silverware on Football Manager 2018?

Philosophies

Diego Simeone has instilled an industrious philosophy at Atletico Madrid, with all 11 players on the pitch needing to bust a gut for their side. However, you will not be issued with any philosophies by chairman Enrique Cerezo upon arriving at the club.

Expectations

A transfer ban until January means there is no leeway on your budget, which is dictated by your targets for the season. You cannot decide what the aims are for the season, and chairman Cerezo will want you to reach the Champions Cup quarterfinals, and qualify for the Champions Cup via your league placing. The Spanish Cup is marked as not important. 

Budget

Transfer: £180,000

Wage: £2.5 million per week

Formation

Diego Simeone showed that the 4-4-2 formation wasn’t dead when Atletico won the league in 2014, with the discipline of the team not giving their opponents an inch. Given the current squad of players, you should look to change this to a 4-3-3 wide.

Jan Oblak is the clear choice in goal, with the experienced Juanfran, Diego Godin, Stefan Savic and Filipe Luis making up the back four.

Saul, Gabi and Koke provide great balance in midfield, with the exciting pair of Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann out wide. Kevin Gameiro leads the line in the absence of Diego Costa until the former Chelsea player becomes available in January.

On the bench, you should go for Miguel Angel Moya, Jose Gimenez, Sime Vrsaljko, Augusto Fernandez, Nicolas Gaitan, Angel Correa and Fernando Torres.

Key players

Despite the squad starting to change shape as the older players start to drop, there is no question that Atletico Madrid still have barrels of talent in their squad.

Antoine Griezmann – CA 4.5 star (177), PA 4.5 star (181)

Perhaps the biggest victim of Atletico Madrid’s slight decline, Antoine Griezmann may now feel he is too big for the club. Diego Simeone has said the Frenchman is free to leave the club in January, with bullish striker Diego Costa returning to the club. Griezmann and Costa would make a mouth-watering partnership up front, but you will need to wait until January for the pair to link up together.

Left winger or striker Griezmann has a superb 177 current ability score, and at the age of 26, he can still grow to his 181 potential. His game consists of 19 first touch, 18 finishing and 18 off the ball, giving him a value of £72 million and massive wages of £375,000 a week. Do you consider selling the star to bring in more talent in January?

Jan Oblak – CA 4 star (166), PA 4 star (176)

If Jan Oblak keeps performing, he will soon be mentioned in the same breath as the world’s best goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and David De Gea. The 24-year-old has kept 77 clean sheets in 135 games for Atletico, and perhaps if he didn’t play behind such a robust defence he would receive the credit he deserves.

The Slovenian’s 166 CA can rise to a 176 PA. His best attributes include 18 handling, 18 reflexes and 16 positioning, giving him a value of £43 million and £58,000 a week wages.

Diego Godin – CA 4 star (166), PA 4 star (169)

Diego Godin is the cornerstone in that defence, and the Uruguayan is undoubtedly one of the best defenders in the game. The 31-year-old has made over 100 caps for his country and lifted a La Liga, a Copa del Rey, two Europa Leagues and two UEFA Super Cups with Atletico.

The centre back has a 166 CA rating, which could still improve to a 169 potential. Attributes of 18 heading, 18 bravery and 17 decisions give him a value of £38.5 million and wages of £130,000 a week.

Young talent

Names such as Quinton Fortune, Fernando Torres, David De Gea, Koke and Saul Niguez have come through the youth setup at Atletico Madrid. With finances low, now is the perfect time for a youngster to step up and be counted at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Axel Werner – CA 2 star (124), PA 3-4 star (155)

First it was David De Gea, then Thibaut Courtois and now Jan Oblak. Axel Werner could be the next man to take the number one shirt at Atletico, with the 21-year-old already going out on loan to Boca Juniors. He now has the opportunity to get appearances under his belt for the B side, and he has already had a place on the bench in the Copa Del Rey for the first team this season.

Werner’s 124 current ability score can rise to 155, so he may never be a first choice shoe-in but he has the talent to be a more than capable back up. His attributes include 17 jumping reach, 16 aerial reach, and 16 reflexes.

Nicolas Schiappacasse – CA 2 star (115), PA 2.5-3.5 star (130-160)

Perhaps a youngster with a bit more pedigree is striker Nicolas Schiappacasse. The Uruguayan scored four goals back in his homeland for River Plate, making the switch to Atletico in the summer of 2016. The 18-year-old has already won the U20 South American tournament with Uruguay (he has 14 goals in 29 games at that level), so expect him to get game time for Atleti in the coming seasons. 

Schiappacase has a decent 115 CA rating on FM 18, which can rise to a potential between 130 and 160. Watch his 16 heading accuracy, 15 technique and 15 agility improve as he develops.

Caio – CA 1.5 star (105), PA 2.5-3.5 star (120-150)

Atletico are not spoilt for choice with conventional attacking midfielders and youngster Caio could be an option in the years ahead. The 20-year-old Brazilian was handed his debut in the Copa del Rey last season, and with 13 appearances for Brazil U20s he looks set for a bright future.

A 105 CA score consists of 16 determination, 16 natural fitness and 15 pace. His potential between 120 and 150 makes him a man to keep an eye on over the next 18 months or so.

Team report


Strengths
Weaknesses
Goalkeeper Depth Overall Depth
Work Rate Transfer Budget
Youth Prospects Wage Budget
Left Wing Depth
Central Midfield Depth
Coaching Staff
Star Goalkeeper (Jan Oblak)
Star Defenders (Diego Godin & Filipe Luis)
Leadership
Jumping Reach
First Touch
Aggression
Teamwork
Decisions

Dynamics

Team leaders – Fernando Torres, Gabi (C), Filipe Luis

Highly influential – Juanfran, Diego Godin (vice-captain), Koke, Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa, Saul

Dynamics if the main new feature for Football Manager 2018. It shows the atmosphere inside the dressing room at the club. If morale is low, you will see this impact the performances on the pitch. Make sure you choose your words carefully when handling the more influential members of your squad as they have the capacity to turn the dressing room against you.

Transfer targets

Atletico Madrid’s transfer embargo forbids them from bringing in any players until January. This includes loans and free agents. See how your squad is developing and reassess the squad in the new year, but you still not have much funds to play with.

Left back in January – Benoit Tremoulinas (CA 138, PA 148)

A long-term knee injury meant Benoit Tremoulinas was released by Sevilla at the end of last season, but the French international is fit again and could provide valuable depth to the Atletico squad. The Ligue 1, Coupe De France, Ukrainian Premier League and Europa League winner has a 138 CA rating which consists of 16 natural fitness, 16 crossing and 16 teamwork. At the age of 31, his CA could still flirt back towards his 148 potential. 

Alternative options:

  • Guilherme Siqueira – Age 31, Unattached, Brazil, CA 138, PA 148
  • Javi Garrido – Age 32, Unattached, Spain, CA 125, PA 131
  • Juan Fuentes – Age 27, Unattached, Spain, CA 122, PA 128
  • Florian Marange – Age 31, Unattached, France, CA 123, PA 127

Players to sell

In order to bring in new signings in January you will need to let a player or two go. It is not a massive squad, so choose who to sell wisely.

Fernando Torres

With Diego Costa able to play in January, it looks as if fellow former Chelsea teammate Fernando Torres will leave the club. Torres has been linked with a reunion with his old Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez at Newcastle, and you should also be looking to sell the striker in the new year. The World Cup winner should collect you £3.5 million, but more importantly free up £97,000 a week in wages. 

Finances

Aside from the transfer ban, this is the tricky area for Atletico Madrid. The club has two loans to pay off by the end of 2020, and it looks as if until then you will struggle financially. The overall balance of the club is already in the negative and getting worse, but the turnover is remaining fairly constant.

Expenditure is more or less the same, and your losses will start to ease towards the end of the season. Your transfer budget for the coming seasons does not make great reading either. You will need to rely on your on-the-pitch performances to dig the club out of this financial whole.

Rebuild step by step

Let’s be honest, the challenge at Atletico Madrid is far greater than anticipated. We all knew of the transfer embargo, but having such little finances to play with thereafter means you will most likely have to sell some players to bring in new ones.

It is vital in the first season that you qualify for the Champions Cup to bring in the financial gain from the tournament as it may take a couple of seasons before you can turn Atletico back into a title-winning side. The big question you have to ask yourself is how many steps back are you willing to take in order to move forward?

Atletico Madrid first team squad, player roles and ratings

Player
Age
Pos
Role
Duty
Role Ability
CA/
PA
Starting Lineup
Jan Oblak 24 GK Goalkeeper Defend 4 star 166/
176
Juanfran 32 DR Full-Back Attack 3 star 152/
153
Diego Godin 31 DCR Central Defender Defend 4 star 166/
169
Stefan Savic 26 DCL Central Defender Defend 3 star 153/
158
Filipe Luis 31 DL Full-Back Attack 3.5 star 156/
160
Saul 22 MCR Advanced Playmaker Support 4 star 157/
169
Gabi 34 MC Deep Lying Playmaker Defend 3 star 151/
159
Koke 25 MCL Deep Lying Playmaker Support 4 star 165/
170
Yannick Carrasco 23 AMR Winger/
Advanced Playmaker/
Inside Forward
Any 3 star 159/
164
Antoine Griezmann 26 AML Inside Forward Attack 4.5 star 177/
181
Kevin Gameiro 30 STC Trequartista Attack 3 star 154/
158
Substitutes
Miguel Angel Moya 33 GK Goalkeeper Defend 2.5 star 148/
153
Jose Gimenez 22 D (C) Ball Playing Defender Defend/
Stopper
3 star 152/
168
Sime Vrsaljko 25 D (R)
WB (R)
M (R)
Full-Back/
Defensive/
Wing-Back
Attack/
Defend
3 star 149/
162
Augusto Fernandez 31 DM
M (RC)
Mezzala/
Carrilero/
Defensive Winger
Support 3 star 146/
156
Nicolas Gaitan 29 M (L)
AM (RLC)
Winger Support 3 star 145/
155
Angel Correa 22 AM (LC)
ST (C)
Advanced Playmaker Attack 3 star 150/
164
Fernando Torres 33 ST (C) Complete Forward Any 3 star 146/
179
Reserves
Lucas 21 D (LC)
WB (L)
Full-Back Attack 3.5 star 135/
165
Sergi 22 D (L)
WB (L)
Wing-Back Defend 2 star 105/
120
Thomas Partey 24 DM
M (C)
Carrilero/
Defensive Midfielder
Support 3 star 144/
156
Luciano Vietto 23 ST (C) Trequartista Attack 3 star 144/
162
Unavailable
Diego Costa 28 ST (C) Defensive Forward Any 4 star 162/
173

How is your FM save going? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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Alastair Pusinelli

First console: GameBoy Color / Favourite Game: Assassin's Creed 2 / Currently playing: Football Manager 2020

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