Atlético, top strikers and Diego Costa – Will history repeat itself?

Despite Barcelona leading La Liga after 15 games, undoubtedly the story of the Spanish football season so far must be the rise to prominence of Atlético Madrid.

The capital city side have won 13 of their 15 fixtures so far to take their place alongside the Catalan giants on 40 points. The Vicente Calderón outfit also sit higher in the table than fierce cross-town rivals Real Madrid, and beat their neighbours in La Liga for the first time in 14 years earlier this season.

Despite talk of Atlético becoming challengers to the Barca-Real hegemony over Spanish football, Los Colchoneros have also been excelling on the continent. Diego Simeone’s men are unbeaten in Champions League Group G and have already secured a spot in the knockout rounds of the competition.

Although Simeone’s impact and the strength of the collective unit must be heralded as the reason for much of Atleti’s success, one man’s performances have stood out more than most.

Diego Costa has scored 18 goals in 19 appearances in all competitions this term, firing his side into contention and filling the considerable gap left by Radamel Falcao’s departure in the summer.

A wrangle for the 25-year-old’s allegiances at national level has ensued between country of birth Brazil and adopted motherland Spain, while there are no shortage of transfer rumours linking the in-form forward with a move to some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

Costa is not the first striker to make a name for himself at the Vicente Calderón, with some world-class forwards shooting themselves into the limelight with a bundle of goals for Atleti.

Diego CostaFernando Torres was the first in recent memory to be a sensation with the Spanish side, spending six years in Atlético’s first team and becoming a phenomenon with exhilarating displays before being sold to Liverpool.

Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlán was El Niño’s replacement at the club, while Sergio Agüero also emerged as a prodigious talent after moving to Spain from Independiente.

The Argentine was offloaded at great expense to Manchester City, with the Uruguayan moving to Italy and Inter.

Finally, Radamel Falcao led the side to Europa League and Copa del Rey glory, before being tempted away by big-spending Ligue 1 outfit Monaco.

Atleti fans will hope that the revolving door of top-class strikers at the club will not continue to swing, with interest in Costa sure to heighten in the summer. The Madrid outfit’s track record of cashing in on their prize assets will be a worry for the Vicente Calderón faithful, but there are renewed hopes that the story may end differently with Costa.

Although Atlético have had success in the Europa League and have improved consistently over the last number of seasons, before the start of this campaign they did not look like threatening the El Clàsico powerhouses.

However, with Atleti firmly in the La Liga title race, excelling in the Champions League and forging a collective siege mentality, there will be hopes that the likes of Costa will spurn the opportunity to abandon ship.

Any financial concerns or temptation to cash in on the in-form hitman should be waivered by the increased revenue that playing in Europe’s top tournament brings.

Meanwhile, others, such as midfield playmaker Koke, are also being linked with moves to pastures new. However, the latest noises from the Spain international’s camp are that he wants to stay with Atlético and continue the club’s fight to break up the big two’s dominance in Spain.

It certainly feels like a groundbreaking season for Atlético, who look set to continue to challenge for major honours this term. However, the acid test to determine the Vicente Calderón outfit’s longevity at the pinnacle of Spanish football will come in the summer and will be defined by the club’s transfer policy.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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