If you are looking for more of a challenge on FIFA 17’s Career Mode, Atletico Madrid looks to be your best bet. A side that has won a La Liga title and reached two Champions League finals in the last three seasons doesn’t sound like an underdog, but this is a side that has nowhere near the firepower of the other Spanish heavyweights, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Atletico have just one star player, France’s Antoine Griezmann, in comparison to the Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale that they have to compete with at the top of La Liga. The fact that they have been so successful with a lesser squad and lesser finances proves how great coach Diego Simeone is, but you now get the sense that Atletico have reached their peak, and could easily slip back down in Spain, especially with Sevilla winning three Europa League trophies in a row. Your task as Atletico Madrid manager will be to sustain their success and be ready to pounce when Barcelona and Real Madrid slip up.
How you should line-up
The Atletico Madrid side is fairly straightforward, and you shouldn’t be straying too far from Diego Simeone’s preferred 4-4-2 formation. The increasingly impressive Jan Oblak is in goal, with the solid defence of Juanfran, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin and Filipe Luis. Be sure to give ex-Manchester City man Stefan Savic plenty of training and game time where you can so he can reach his potential of 86.
There is a lot of competition for places in midfield, and whereas Simeone prefers to play the highly talented, versatile Saul Niguez on the right side, you should consider usual left midfielder Yannick Carrasco out on the right. The experienced Gabi joins Koke in central midfield, with new signing Nicolas Gaitan playing on the left. Up front, you can’t look further than new man Kevin Gameiro and star man Antoine Griezmann.
On the bench you should have: Miguel Angel Moya, Stefan Savic, Sime Vrsaljko, Tiago, Saul Niguez, Angel Correa and Fernando Torres.
The Transfer Market
Starting transfer budget: £51 million
Starting wage budget: £153,000
Who should go
With Atletico looking to get back to the top of La Liga, you need to get rid of any players that aren’t able to contribute to that task. With a lack of wingers in the squad, you may be tempted to keep hold of the 76-rated Alessio Cerci, but the 28-year-old right winger has already maxed out his potential. With the Italian being in the final year of his contract, you will only receive £2 million for him, but that will free up £50,000 in wages.
Other than Cerci, it is all names that you won’t recognise that need to be shown the door. Juan Moreno, Borja Gonzalez, Roberto Nunez and Bernabe all have potentials no higher than 75, so there is no point in keeping them at the club. Once again, they are all in the last year of their contracts, so you will do well to receive more than £200,000 for any of them.
What the team needs
With those sales, you will have almost £53 million, and a pre-season tournament win could take you into the £60 million bracket. With Atletico entering a transition period, with the likes of Saul Niguez, Stefan Savic, Angel Correa and Lucas Hernandez holding the potential to come into the first team, there is no need to go crazy in the transfer market. Add to that list the loaned out Miranda, Luciano Vietto, Oliver Torres, Matias Kranevitter and more, Atletico will be set for a number of seasons.
But it is no secret that Los Colchoneros are short in the winger department, with Diego Simeone playing Antoine Griezmann up front in a free role, and having one of his wide midfielders offering more defensive protection. A player or two who can cover both flanks is needed, and Lazio’s Keita Balde Diao looks to be your best bet. The 79-rated Senegalese has a potential of 87 and will cost around £28 million. The 21-year-old has 92 sprint speed, 90 acceleration and 86 dribbling, and can also play as a striker. His wages of £36,000 will be kind to your wage budget.
– Gerard Deulofeu – Everton, Age 22, OVR 81, POT 88, Cost: £30 million, Wage: £36,000
– Julian Brandt – Bayer Leverkusen, Age 20, OVR 80, POT 88, Cost: £32 million, Wage: £36,000
– Memphis Depay – Manchester United, Age 22, OVR 80, POT 87, Cost: £30 million, Wage: £43,000
– Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – Arsenal, Age 22, OVR 79, POT 86, Cost: £25 million, Wage: £36,000
– Paul-Georges Ntep – Stade Rennais, Age 23, OVR 80, POT 85, Cost: 18 million, Wage: £11,000
With 13 players out on loan already, you won’t be wanting to add many more. If you sell those recommended players, you will be down to 26 players. The only players that you could send out on loan are Caio Henrique and Nicolas Schiappacasse, who have potentials of 83 and 78, respectively. With starting overalls of 66 and 62, games will be few and far between if you keep them on.
Many of the contracts expiring this season at the Vicente Calderon are players that look to be surplus to requirements in a year’s time. Fernando Torres and Tiago are now past their best, and with striking and midfield talent out on loan, there may not be much point in offering the pair new contracts. Second-choice keeper Miguel Angel Moya is the player you will most likely keep, but he may not be happy to be second choice and could easily turn down a new deal.
Alessio Cerci, Juan Moreno, Borja Gonzalez, Roberto Nunez and Bernabe are the five you want to be the selling, and the only one you could decide to keep would be Cerci as there is a shortage of wingers. All of their contracts are up at the end of the season, so you may as well receive some money for them.
With Atletico Madrid being a smaller club than Barcelona and Real Madrid, their objectives are slightly different. Domestic and continental success is still very important, but a La Liga and ‘Champions Cup’ is probably beyond them. Your minimum target will be to qualify for Europe, and it is very likely that the board will want you to lift the Spanish Cup. As for Europe, you may be asked to win the Champions Cup within two or three seasons, which may sound farfetched, but given the players that are currently out on loan, and the potential of the squad, this is definitely achievable.
Brand exposure is just as important, and this can be achieved by selling shirts or raising the value of the club. Bringing in big names and lifting trophies is the way to complete this task, but the slight financial scrutiny of having to record a profit for the season may get in your way. So make sure you do not spend much more than a half of your transfer budget, with money available for winning a pre-season tournament and getting through the group stage of the Champions Cup. Finally, we have youth development, in which you will need to bring a player through the youth academy and give game time to. This will eat into you transfer budget as well, so make sure it is just a three-month scout search and then fast-track a player or two into the first team.
Can you upset the status quo again?
It was magnificent for football that Atletico Madrid lifted that La Liga title back in 2014, and came within minutes of adding a Champions League title to that. That squad undoubtedly punched above their weight, but there is a sense that Atletico are building towards something great again. 17 players at the club will improve to 83 or over, which few other teams around Europe can say.
The first season will be the hardest, but with three winnable trophies, you should aim to lift one of them. The Spanish Cup should be your best bet, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla the only names to watch out for. Coming third will be your minimum aim in the league, so maybe try and finish second to take some confidence into the next season. As for the ‘Champions Cup’, a trip to the semi-finals should be your goal. Aside from your La Liga rivals, Bayern Munich should be the only other team that you should be afraid of, and they will be in your first round group. Finish top of that group and the path to the semi-finals will be much easier.
The potential of this club is incredible, and after that first season, trebles will become a real possibility. If you want to take a club to the next level then Atletico Madrid is the team to manage.
Have any other tips? Let us know in the comments.
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