Football Manager 2020: Atletico Madrid Guide – Tactics, formations, transfer targets & more

You’ve got a tough act to follow as the Atleti are desperate for their first Champions League success.

George Howson by George Howson

Atletico Madrid are a club that even the biggest and best clubs in Europe dread facing. This is largely down to their loyal and passionate manager, Diego Someone, who has steered Atleti from mediocrity to contestants in the Champions League since taking charge in 2011.

With the move to the Wanda Metropolitano complete, Atletico will be hoping to challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid for the La Liga crown.

Despite losing Antione Griezmann to Barcelona in the Summer, Atletico have a squad full of talent and potential. Can you build a squad that’s able to win the club’s first league title since 2014? Here’s our guide to successful Spanish stint in Football Manager 2020!

Club vision

Atletico Madrid's starting Club vision in FM20.
VERY DIFFICULT: Atletico’s goals are extremely high for your first season.

This new feature has been a big success in FM20. It is both a short-term and long-term set of goals for the club under your direction, as laid out by the board.

It includes play style aims, financial targets, and competition results, with increasing expectations over each year of your tenure.

READ MORE: FM20: Chelsea Team Guide

The goals for your first season are fair, aside from one notable exception. Reaching the final of the Copa Del Rey and the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League is realistic but winning La Liga in your first season is a very tall order.

Finishing second would be hard but beating both Barca and Real Madrid over 38 games would be a monumental achievement when you consider the finances and budgets of the two sides.

READ MORE: FM20 Real Madrid Guide

Going further forward, the board are wanting the club to become self-sufficient within three seasons, something that will be very hard to achieve while winning domestic and European silverware.

You’ll have to do your best to negotiate with the hierarchy, as achieving all of these goals is bordering on unrealistic, especially for the inexperienced FM player.

Tactical style & formation

Atletico Madrid's starting tactics in FM20.
CLASSIC VARIANT: Simeone preferred to keep it old school and so should you.

In the past, the direct counter-attacking tactic would’ve been the go-to for this side and while it’s recommended, it isn’t the one I’d opt for. Gengenpress is the best in general, as Atletico have more quality than almost all the other sides in La Liga.

Tiki-taka is also a favoured approach but it’s probably too fluid and attacking for most teams you’ll face. When you’re facing a top side in Europe or Spain’s big two, the direct counter-attack would be your best bet, though.

When it comes to your choice of formation, the 4-4-2 diamond narrow is best. Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata are both quality strikers that need to be on the pitch from the outset, while a back four is required to keep your goals conceded tally low. Most of the midfield talent in the side is focused centrally, so a lack of wingers is an acceptable loss to allow this quality to play at the same time.

Your starting XI is Jan Oblak in goal, with a back four of Santiago Arias, Jose Gimenez, Felipe and Renan Lodi.

READ MORE: Wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga is a must-buy in FM20

Marcos Llorente is your defensive midfielder with Saul and Koke in front of him in the centre of the park. Joao Felix is your attacking midfielder who will provide service to Alvaro Morata and Diego Costa up front.

Your seven on the bench should be Antonio Adan, Kieran Trippier, Stefan Savic, Hector Herrera, Vitolo, Thomas Lemar and Ivan Saponjic.

Best players

There are some very talented players in your squad with some having huge potential going forward. The best players are spread across multiple positions from the goalkeeper at the back to the strikers up front. Here’s the top five Atletico players in terms of current ability:

PlayerPosAgeCA/PABest Stats
Jan OblakGK26172/17618 handling, 18 reflexes, 17 composure
KokeM (RLC)27163/16917 teamwork, 17 concentration, 16 corners
Jose GimenezD (C)24161/16817 bravery, 16 heading, 16 tackling
Diego CostaST30160/16820 aggression, 20 bravery, 19 determination
SaulDM, M (RC)24157/16917 concentration, 16 passing, 16 technique

The ability is concentrated in central areas, hence the choice of a narrow formation. Jan Oblak is the clear standout in this side, being almost 10 CA points ahead of his nearest teammate. With a 176 PA as well, he’s also got the highest potential in the Atletico squad but only just ahead of one of the club’s youth players.

Young talent

Atletico’s youth academy isn’t on the same level as Barcelona’s but it has produced some footballing top talent over the years. Fernando Torres, Gabi and even the great Raul were churned out by the Atletico system.

If the club is to become self-sufficient, they’ll have to rely on their academy system and these are the top three talents on their books in terms of PA:

Joao Felix – CA 3 star (149), PA 5 star (175)

Joao Felix starting FM20 attributes
THE NEXT RONALDO: Joao Felix is an incredible teenage talent that will only get better.

A lot of the Griezmann money was re-invested in purchasing Joao Felix from Benfica for £113m this summer. He’s only 19 but has become a regular in the Atletico XI which has been fully deserved.

Felix can play all along the attacking midfield line or as a striker, so he’s a great asset to have in the side. He’s already a top La Liga talent and will improve to his PA of 175 withing five years.

READ MORE: FM20: Arsenal team guide

Felix should be starting for your side from the outset of your save. He’ll provide excellent service to your strikers thanks to attributes like his 15 passing, 18 technique and 19 flair.

Nehuen Perez – CA 2 star (120), PA 4 star (160)

Nehuen Perez starting FM20 attributes

Nehuen Perez is a long way behind Felix in terms of his PA but at 160, he will still become a top La Liga defender once he fully develops. The centre back already had solid attributes in the areas which are best for a D (C) and these will only improve as the teenager matures.

With a starting CA of 120, Perez will probably require another season on loan to be of the quality required to merit significant minutes at Atletico. If you can, loan the Argentine to another top tier European side, so he can better understand first-team football on Atleti’s continent.

Nicolas Schiappacasse – CA 2 star (110), PA 3.5 star (150)

Nicolas Schiappacasse starting FM20 attributes

Another player that’s on loan at Atletico’s feeder club Famalicão, Nicolas Schiappacasse also has a bright future ahead of him. The Uruguayan failed to make an impact last season at Parma but could well be in the goals in Portugal.

READ MORE: FM20: All the best contract expiry signings

The attacker will likely need another two seasons on loan to be ready for the first team. Even then, with a PA of 150, he’ll probably be a squad rotation player rather than a regular starter.

What’s working in Schiappacasse’s favour though, is that he can play all along the attacking midfield and as a striker, so he’s very versatile.

Transfer targets

Atletico Madrid starting FM20 financial information.
POOR: Atletico will be struggling to make many big transfers in the coming seasons.

Starting transfer budget: £1.8 million

Remaining wage budget: £29,000 a week

The remaining transfer and wage budgets are of amounts that you’d expect to see from a club playing in the Championship, not the Champions League.

That’s the situation Atletico find themselves in, though and it’s set to worsen rather than improve over the coming seasons. The bank balance is expected to hit £0 by the early stages of your first season, eventually lowering to around -£50m after the 2021-22 season is complete.

This is partly down to the club’s goal of becoming self-sufficient, the board doesn’t want to put any money into transfers nor keeping wages afloat.

READ MORE: All the best left midfielders (ML & AML) to sign in FM20

With less than £2m to spend on transfers, loaning would be your only realistic option but the wage budget doesn’t allow for that either. The board doesn’t let you make adjustments, either, so you’re stuck with what little you’ve got.

Realistically, you’ll have to wait until the next season to bring anybody of quality in. You’ll have a budget of around £5m, though, so loaning is again the best you can manage.

Federico Bernardeschi's starting FM20 attributes.
INCREDIBLE LOAN: Bernardeschi would make an excellent addition to your team.

Federico Bernardeschi is one of the highest-rated wingers in the game, it’s a shock that he’s available from Zebre (Juventus). The Italian can play all along the attacking midfield line, so if you opt for a 4-2-3-1 or another formation which had wingers, he’d be a great option alongside Thomas Lemar.

If you were allowed to by the board, you could pool all your money into the wage budget and should be able to afford him, as Bernardeschi’s wages aren’t that high (£125k). Juve would be willing to negotiate on why percentage of his pay you’d have to cover, as it likely wouldn’t require a 100% contribution.

Alternative options

If the prospect of signing Bernnardeschi doesn’t whet your appetite, consider loaning these other players instead.

NameAgeClubCountryCA/PAValueWage
Phil Foden19Man CityEngland140/175£34.5m£30k
Joe Willock19ArsenalEngland134/153£22m£40k
Victor Wanyama28TottenhamKenya136/152£20m£65k

Future transfers

Since Morata is returning to England at the end of your first season, you’ll need someone to replace the Spanish international. You won’t have the money to buy a top striker but the possibility is there to loan one.

Who will be placed on the loan list a season into the game is very difficult to predict and it’ll be hard to sign a striker of the quality of Morata on loan.

In truth, your best bet is to look up the best players whose contracts are up in the summer and you can sign on a pre-contract agreement. If Felix moves into attack, Christian Eriksen of Tottenham would be an excellent option in attacking midfield.

READ MORE: The best wonderkid midfielders in Football Manager 2020

Other attacking midfielders and strikers that have contracts expiring in June 2020 include Willian, Pedro, Mario Gotze and Edinson Cavani.

Contracts

Atletico Madrid FM20 contract status.
SAFE: You won’t have to do much work securing Atletico’s best players for the future.

The financials look poor for Atletico but the contract situation at the start of FM20 is a positive one. The club’s most important players are tied down to long-term deals for the most part.

Stefan Savic is the only major first team player whose deal expires at the end of the first season. At 28, the Montenegro international is in the prime of his career and should be starting a good chunk of games for your side. He should be the main focus of your contract efforts, be sure to commit him to a deal before he can sign a pre-contract with another side in January.

READ MORE: Best young goalkeepers (GK) to sign in Football Manager 2020

As they’re on loan, Alvaro Morata and Josua Mejias will leave the club at the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign. The former of which is a big loss to your side and it’d be hard to get him back as his parent club Chelsea will likely want to make use of his services.

Going further forward, Diego Costa and Jan Oblak’s contracts both expire at the end of the 2020-21 season, so these are two players that need to be committed before the start of your second season. Oblak in particular will be difficult to keep a hold of, as the Slovene is one of the most in-demand goalkeepers in world football.

Challenging the two Spanish giants

This is the ultimate goal of any of Spain’s big clubs is to one day challenge the duopoly they have over La Liga. There’s a reason why they’ve dominated for so long though, money.

Barcelona and Real Madrid are two of the richest clubs in the world and while Atletico Madrid has a significant annual turnover, it’s not on the same level. You’ll have to be shrewd in the transfer market and rely on your youth academy to stand a chance.

READ MORE: All the best right wingers (MR & AMR) in Football Manager 2020

Winning the odd trophy will go down well but continued success like the giants have had is a huge ask.

Of course, the one piece of major silverware that Atleti hasn’t won yet is the Champions League. The Rojiblancos made the final twice under Simeone but fell short to their oldest and most bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Being in a position to win Europe’s top prize is something that will take time to reach. It’d make you stand out as the best manager the club has ever had and it is a realistic long-term goal, as most of your side is young and will improve.

Full Atletico Madrid player ratings

PlayerAgePosRoleDutyRole AbilityCA/PA
Starting Lineup
Jan Oblak26GKSKDefend4 star172/176
Santiago Arias27D/WB (R)FBDefend3 star141/145
Jose Gimenez24D (C)BPDStopper4 star161/168
Felipe30D (C)NCBDefend4 star143/155
Renan Lodi21D/WB/M (L)CWBSupport2.5 star138/152
Marcos Llorente24DM, M (C)DLPDefend3 star150/160
Koke27M (RLC)DLPDefend4 star163/169
Saul24DM, M (RC)APDefend3 star157/169
Joao Felix19AM (RLC), STAPSupport3 star149/175
Alvaro Morata26STCFAttack3.5 star155/170
Diego Costa30 STPFAttack4 star160/168
Substitutes & Reserves
Antonio Adan32GKSKDefend3 star144/155
Stefan Savic28D (C)BPDCover3.5 star152/152
Kieran Trippier28D/WB (R)FBDefend2.5 star139/152
Hector Herrera29M (C)BBMSupport3 star147/148
Vitolo29M (RL), AM (RLC)IWSupport4 star152/158
Thomas Lemar23M (L), AM (RLC)WBSupport3.5 star154/171
Ivan Saponjc21STPFAttack2 star130/152
Angel Correa24M (R), AM (RLC), STIWSupport3 star153/165
Sime Vrsalijko27D/WB/M (R)FBDefend3 star145/153
Thomas Partey26DM, M (C)BBMSupport3 star147/162
Mario Hermoso24D (LC)FBDefend3 star149/158
Joasua Mejias25D (C)NCBStopper2 star105/135

George Howson

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