Last night, it was made official that Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic would be joining Spanish champions Atletico Madrid for a fee believed to be around the £17.5million mark, to be a direct replacement for Diego Costa.
Last season saw Atletico Madrid lift the La Liga trophy for the first time since 1996. They also fell short in the Champions League Final after losing 4-1 against fierce city rivals Real Madrid. Atletico took the lead in that game and were just minutes away from winning the trophy, but a Sergio Ramos header took it to extra time.
A main contributor to Atletico Madrid’s success last season was Spanish striker Diego Costa. Last season, the Madrid hit man scored 36 goals in just 52 games in all competitions, with 27 of those coming in Atletico Madrid’s title winning campaign. The Spanish striker was the main outlet of attack for Atletico last season, adding 4 assists to his game as well.
His goals to game ratio is extremely impressive, especially since Atletico Madrid were well known to be a defensive counter-attacking side, so to score so many goals last season made him a key player to the team. But his departure to Chelsea along with the departure of one season wonder David Villa – who left for the MLS to join new ‘franchise’ New York City FC – they were in need of a striker who is of the top pedigree.
Just a few hours flight away, German side Bayern Munich won their Bundesliga title in record-breaking time. Striker Mario Mandzukic went about his season in impressive fashion despite being touted to leave since the day Pep Guardiola took over. Mandzukic is not a Guardiola style player, as he does not fit the tactic of ‘tika-taka,’ which Guardiola so loves to play and implement onto his sides.
But Mandzukic went about his business and ended the season with a fairly impressive final goal tally. In 48 appearances in all competitions, the Croatian scored 26 goals for the German champions, including 18 in 30 league games. The Croatian may not have been Pep Guardiola’s version of a perfect striker, but he still went about his business and racked up a very impressive goal tally.
With Atletico Madrid selling their best striker and not re-signing their second choice striker, they had to buy a good forward to make sure they have any chance of retaining the La Liga next season.
Diego Simeone has got himself a striker who suits the club’s style of play perfectly. A team who soaks up pressure expertly as an entire side and counter-attack with no mercy, they often create chances from the wings with full-backs and wingers alike overlapping regularly. As a result of this, Mandzukic’s height and heading ability is perfect for Simeone’s Atletico Madrid style of play.
Written by Joshua Bean