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To win La Liga it is not necessarily important to have 25 better players than Barcelona or Real Madrid. What is crucial, though, is having 25 footballers good enough to polish off the other 17 sides in Spain's top flight. The four league clashes against Spain's top two can pretty much be written off if every one else can be despatched.
Of course, achieving this feat is considerably easier said than done. After all, a team has to be able to perform over ten months in the heat of Sevilla in the summer or the cold of Pamplona in January. Spain's truly insane kick-off times would be a challenge to any outfit, a timetable which can range from a game starting at eleven at night on a Friday, to midday on a Sunday, to nine on a Monday.
To manage all these obstacles a squad has to be deep, committed, persistent and have extraordinary energy levels. In theory Atlético Madrid possess all four qualities. The Rojiblancos have two fine goalkeepers, three stirling centre-backs (although are a little short on fullbacks), a midfield packed with variety and four classy forwards in the form of David Villa, Diego Costa, Leo Baptistao and Adrián.
A wonderful start to the season for Atlético which began with an away win at Sevilla, continued with a powerful and empowering display to rattle Barcelona in a 1-1 draw in the Spanish Super Cup and ended on Sunday evening with a five goal thrashing of an admittedly hapless Rayo Vallecano. There was no mercy or let up in energy levels for either of Atlético's three opponents.
These three games have once again introduced the traditional early season topic of whether Atlético have enough to make the title race a three horse race. After all, the Rojiblancos were more than a match for Barcelona on Wednesday night and beat Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabéu in May's Copa del Rey final. The professionalism and consistency that has been lacking for so many Atlético teams over the years has been jammed into the DNA of the club by Diego Simeone, who demands the upmost intensity and performance levels from each and every Atlético Madrid game.
However, it is an overload in energy which might prevent the Vicente Calderón club from putting together a planned, methodical title charge, rather than a team losing focus or desire along the way. Atlético Madrid have just the one speed, which is a blistering, in-yer-face, run until your knees collapse dynamism.
The team were just as eager to score against Rayo in the last minute at 4-0 up, as the opening seconds of the game. This was epitomised by the side's first move after the break which saw Arda Turan blasting up the centre of the pitch in a direct line for goal and very nearly making it through, before taking one touch too many.
Atlético lack patience and the ability to slow down games, to stifle opponents and bore crowds to death with 2-0 wins, a crucial skill for those wet Wednesday nights in Vigo. One of the reasons is perhaps a fear of the Atlético Madrid of old returning, the former version that needed four or five goals to secure a victory. There may still be an insecurity running through a team that could always find a way to stuff everything up to matter how promising the scenario.
Whatever the root cause to the side's overarching intensity, Atlético's brooding Argentinean boss admitted after Sunday's win that his team can only give it the mythical 120%. "We don't know how to play at another rhythm. We are comfortable that way and uncomfortable with a slow game," said Simeone.
The club's inspirational manager has been undeniably successful in putting fire in his players' bellies with a Europa League title, a third-place finish in La Liga and a Copa del Rey victory, all achieved in just a season-and-a-half in charge. Simeone's next challenge is going to have to be to put that fire out a little, and get the team to chill out if Atlético Madrid are going to give La Liga's big two a proper run for their money this season.
Round 2 Results
Getafe 2-2 Almería
Athletic 2-0 Osasuna
Elche 1-1 Real Sociedad
Espanyol 3-1 Valencia
Villarreal 2-1 Valladolid
Atlético Madrid 5-0 Rayo Vallecano
Málaga 0-1 Barcelona
Levante 0-0 Sevilla
Betis 1-2 Celta Vigo
Granada v Real Madrid (Monday)
Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter