Atletico Madrid favourite to lift La Liga crown, feel former players

Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid will seal its first La Liga title in seven years if it can get past Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid is now only one win away from the La Liga title.   -  REUTERS

As the tightest La Liga title race in recent times draws to a close with just one round of games remaining, all signs point to Atletico Madrid lifting its first league title in seven years.  

It has been a roller-coaster ride in Spain with the title race going down to the wire as the two heavyweights from Madrid- Atletico and Real enter their final game week.  

While Diego Simeone’s men are more optimistic about their chances, needing a win over 19 placed Real Valladolid, Zinedine Zidane will be sure to remind his men about Atletico slipping up at crucial times during the season.

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In a media interaction on Thursday, a host of former La Liga players, including the likes of Diego Forlan, Luis Garcia, Marcos Senna and Javier Mascherano, opined that Atletico is the front-runner for the title and that Simeone will win his second trophy on Saturday. 

“Simeone has done a fantastic job at Atletico Madrid. This year we’ve seen a team with a different mentality, a team that doesn’t just defend and counter-attack,” said former Atletico player Garcia. 

It has not been an easy season for Real Madrid given the number of injuries the side dealt with, but Zidane has done well to power his team through dire circumstances. Former Real Madrid and Malaga player Fernando Sanz said, “Zidane’s done an incredible job. He had to deal with over 60 injuries this season and yet they’ve been contenders until the very end. For me, the best candidate for the managerial job at Real Madrid is always Zidane.”

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Barcelona, which won the Copa Del Rey, made a recovery after an initial slump but fans were left pining for more as the club repeatedly dropped crucial points in important matches. While a major squad haul is the need of the hour, the lack of a prolific striker was visible throughout the campaign.

Former Barcelona player Mascherano felt that Sergio Aguero, who is to leave Manchester City at the end of the season, would help solve Barca's attacking woes. “Hopefully Barcelona can sign Sergio Aguero, he would be a great signing. It would also create very favourable conditions for (Lionel) Messi to stay… (Ronald) Koeman managed to put Barcelona back on track, to put together a competitive side, win the Copa del Rey and keep them in the title race until the very end... He’s done a good job.”  

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