Atlético Madrid Sign Spanish Striker David Villa for a Maximum Fee of €5.1m

David VillaAtletico Madrid have found gold in the bargain bucket. The signing of Spain’s top scorer for a mere €5.1m is pure madness in the modern world of football. Still plenty left within him, the way he was shunned to the side at Barcelona last season following his recovery from a broken leg made a mockery of him. On the few occasions he did play, he showed exactly why he is the best Spanish striker of the modern era.

Atletico usually replace strikers well; Sergio Aguero proved a great replacement for Fernando Torres back in 2007 and then Radamel Falcao proved to excellent replacement for Sergio Aguero in 2011. Both Aguero and Falcao had come from outside Spain, so there was still an element of doubt to them.

But with David Villa, it does exactly what it says on the tin. He will guarantee goals and as a versatile forward that can operate freely across the front-line, and he will fit the Atletico system perfectly. Able to operate as the lone front-man or any other position in a front three, he is perhaps an upgrade on the departed Radamel Falcao. A move to the Premier League seemed imminent, but Atletico were the first to act towards signing the Spanish forward:

“We had a move to the Premier League in mind but then Atleti appeared and within three days all my personal terms had been agreed. From a career point of view, they weren’t lacking anything. They finished third in La Liga and will play in the Champions League. They beat Real Madrid to win the Copa del Rey.”

If anybody will challenge the heavyweights in La Liga, it will be Atletico. There are big things on the horizon at Atletico with a season in the Champions League coming up, it seems David Villa will provide the sort of player for Atletico’s ambitious aims in the competition. Atletico manager Diego Simeone has shown faith in the striker as Villa stated:

“I spoke to Diego Simeone and he showed a lot of confidence in me. I now have to repay that.”

Injuries have been the main problem for David Villa over the past two years, in particular a broken leg. This has resulted in him scoring ten or less league goals in the past two years, a far cry from his 15+ of previous seasons. However, this will simply add more hunger to his game. A full season under his belt could see him challenge for the golden boot.

David VillaHis move does add an extra interest in the Spanish Supercup, he could make his debut over the two-legged fixture. If he steers Atletico to victory in the final, he could be thorn in Barca’s side, making them looking foolish for letting a top player leave for a mere sum.

Winning over the fans won’t be difficult for David Villa, already a popular figure with the Spanish national team. His unveiling at the Vicente Calderon included a pitch invasion as Atleti fans mobbed their new idol. Memories of Falcao may fade with the new number nine in town. Aiming for his best season yet ahead of the World Cup, Villa seems confident he can fill the void:

“But I am simply at his disposal (Simeone’s) and will play wherever he wants. Falcao was loved here but hopefully I can make sure his absence isn’t felt.”

Written by Jimmy Cartwright

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Where Does the Copa Del Rey Final Leave Atlético and Real Madrid?

Atlético MadridAfter 14 years, Atletico got the better of fierce rivals Real Madrid, and what a time to do it. Ending the season for Real in bitter fashion, Atletico had perhaps their greatest triumph, with Jose Mourinho dubbing the season as his “worst ever.” With dust settling on the campaign, where does this leave Atletico and Real?

Real will be under a new guiding philosophy, Carlo Ancelotti seems the likely replacement, however the logistics over a move from PSG are proving difficult for Real. Ancelotti is a safe option, much like most Real appointments. His success in the Champions League makes the most likely to bring the tenth title to Real, however that could prove impossible with the Guardiola reign at Bayern seeming destined to European domination.

A serious league challenge from Real could amount next season, Barcelona stormed the early part of the season, but since Tito Vilanova was away for a short period, the gap got closer. Without so many rifts between Mourinho and the dressing room, it could have been such a successful side this season.

The problem of Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema dipping out of form proved to be pivotal, and the ‘sadness’ of Cristiano Ronaldo also provided to be an obstacle. Real did show their class throughout the campaign, the Copa Del Rey Semi-Finals were the pinnacle of their season. It was quite unfitting that they lost the Copa Del Rey Final in such disappointing circumstances.

The divisions in Real’s team were leaped upon by Diego Simeone, who claimed the game showed Real’s lack of unity:

“You can have great champions but, without a group, there is not a team. It’s very difficult. We are a group first. That makes us a team.”

José MourinhoThat was the fundamental difference in the final; Atletico were simply more unified. Divisions could define the Mourinho era, the constant conflict in the Real dressing room was pure poison to success. At times, Real and their conduct was utterly embarrassing.

Atletico are looking on the bright side despite the fact they are set to lose their star player, Radamel Falcao. There is a sense they can easily replace him; it proved to be a task they handled immaculately when replacing Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero.

Rumors have linked Christian Benteke to a move, with his contract at Villa not quite wrapped up, he seems a fine replacement. His touch of class in pace and power proved to be the only thing consistent for Villa this season. If he was to emulate his Villa form in La Liga, he could potentially mature into one of Europe’s finest strikers.

Atletico will again test their weight in the Champions League after years of waiting. Spanish success in the group stage last term can prove as great encouragement. Especially, the success of Malaga, a side that would have made the Semi-Finals if it wasn’t for some bizarre circumstances in latter stages against Dortmund. If Malaga could conquer the tournament to as far as the Quarter-Finals, Atletico could dream of even going a step further.

Real’s success next season will depend on the impact of the new manager; if it is Ancelotti, he would provide a rock solid appointment in combating the dressing room rifts. His success at PSG last season in both league and to some extent the Champions League consolidated his ability to deal with egos.

For Atletico, they could realistically catch Barca. Shown up to be far from the Pep Barca that seemingly would never end, the fear of being far from the pace could corrupt the club. Moreover, the signing of Neymar could lead to complete denial if he ultimately fails to shine at Barca. For every step Barca and Real make backwards, Atletico come creeping further on.

Written by Jimmy Cartwright

Radamel Falcao Scores Five Goals to Destroy Deportivo La Coruna

Argentine striker Lionel Messi broke Gerd Muller’s record of 85 goals in a calendar year on December 9th, but although that was a crucial date in football history, it may have overshadowed something equally as important.

Radamel FalcaoAtletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao has once again reminded us of his claim that he will soon be the best striker in the world after leading the squad to a historic 6-0 victory over Deportivo la Coruna. The game was yet another demonstration of his undisputed talent on the pitch. Of Atletico’s 6 goals, the 26-year old Colombian found the back of the net 5 times as Atletico Madrid demolished Deportivo la Coruna.

Diego Costa opened the scoring with a header for Atletico on the 23rd minute, but the spotlight was completely on Falcao for the remainder of the match.

Falcao recorded his 1st of the match on the 28th minute after slotting the ball past the goalkeeper’s reach and into the bottom-left corner from the right. His 2nd, which was probably the goal of the match, was scored from just outside the box 3 minutes before the end of the 1st half.  His powerful shot went right past the diving goalkeeper and skimmed the right post as he netted the ball once again, putting Atletico up 3-0 at half time.

The first 20 minutes of the 2nd half had remained fairly quiet until Falcao completed his hat trick. Falcao stepped up to take the penalty kick, which found the bottom-right corner as Deportivo goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia dove left. Just 4 minutes later, the striker found a 4th after he easily headed the ball in following the goalkeeper’s deflection.

Falcao put an end to the Atletico-dominated show as he took advantage of Deportivo’s terrible defense to score his 5th and final goal of the game. Despite the large number of defenders marking Falcao, from inside the box, Falcao slotted a shot that took a deflection off of the goalkeeper but still went in the goal, ending the game in a shocking 6-0 win for Atletico Madrid.

As a result of this historic match, Falcao was named the 1st player to score 5 in a La Liga game since the 2001-02 season. With 17 in total, Falcao is currently the 2nd top goalscorer in La Liga, behind only Lionel Messi (who has 25 goals) and a shocking 3 goals ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid vs Deportivo la CorunaBut although Messi has scored more than Falcao this season, he has also played more games. Messi has scored 30 goals in 23 games, which gives him an average of about 1.3 goals per match. Falcao has a similar average of about 1.27 goals per match thanks to 19 goals in 15 games. Therefore, at this rate, Falcao could threaten Messi’s newly set record in 2013.

Falcao has been very hard to beat this season, slotting in goals from all distances, positions, and angles, and he seems to be improving with every year. Because of his newly established popularity, we will most likely see Falcao leave Atletico for another team when the Transfer Market opens in January.

Reigning European Champions Chelsea and Spanish Champions Real Madrid are hoping to buy the Colombian International for themselves, especially because of their lack of success in their respective leagues this season. His game with Deportivo, in which he hit 5 goals, has surely opened their eyes to the significance of acquiring the striker.

Still-undefeated Barcelona stand atop La Liga with 46 points from their 15-1-0 record. Atletico Madrid are in 2nd place 6 points behind Barcelona and have an astonishing record of 13 wins, 1 draw, and 3 losses. Meanwhile, Real Madrid are trailing in 3rd with 33 points from their terrible 10-3-3 record. If results hold, this will be the first time since the 2003-04 season that Real Madrid haven’t gotten in the top 2 of the Spanish League.

Written by FutbolPulse