Last year was both fantastic and slightly disappointing for Atletico Madrid. Breaking a long win less streak against their rivals Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final was the highlight of the season but some poor league performances down the stretch cost them second place. Not that third place is a bad thing as it still provided Los Colchoneros a place in the Champions League group stages, but after spending much of the season ahead of Madrid, not being able to hold on for second was a bit of let down.
Despite some notable departures this summer, Diego Simeone has reloaded his roster as Atletico looks to once again push Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the league. If Los Colchoneros could somehow break the stranglehold those two teams have had on the title, it would be one of the biggest stories in the sport this season.
Godin is probably the best defender in La Liga at the moment, which is saying something considering some of the other names that play in Spain. He led a Los Colchoneros defense that only conceded 31 goals in league play last season, easily the best by a wide margin. Along with João Miranda, Atletico have quite a formidable defensive pairing which should only be better with the addition of Martín Demichelis. Given the team's ambition to challenge for the title, Godin will need to have another excellent year.
Diego Simeone did plenty of business this transfer window refreshing the squad after two big transfers and a slew of released players left the club.
David Villa headlines the incoming player list, joining from Barcelona for a tremendous bargain price. Villa will be tasked with taking over for Falcao, something that will be difficult but not beyond Villa's skill set. He never seemed to fit in to Barca's system and playing in Simeone's setup should be right up Villa's alley. Expect a big season from the Spanish National Team's all-time leading scorer.
Youngster Léo Baptistão was signed from Rayo Vallecano to push and compete with striker Adrián López. He won't be under a tremendous amount of pressure early and could develop into a star for the club in the near future.
Central defender Martín Demichelis arrives from Malaga to provide experience and depth on the back line. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois returns as well on another season-long loan from Chelsea. He'll be backed up by new signing Dani Aranzubía.
Radamel Falcao is gone to Monaco for a pretty penny -- a whole bunch of pretty pennies actually -- and life will go on for Atletico. Sure it's tough when you sell your best player, both in terms of on the field performance and marketing value, but sometimes you've gotta make the deal. Falcao wanted to move on and there was no reason to stand in his way when the financial windfall was so large.
The other notable departure was winger Pizzi who was sold to Benfica after spending last season on loan at Deportivo La Coruña. Attacking mid Rúben Micael was also sold to Braga.
Even without Falcao leading the attack, Atletico are poised to once again be one of the top three teams in Spain. David Villa is more than capable of scoring a pile of goals and Simeone has managed to keep his stingy defense in tact, which should mean another strong campaign. If Los Colchoneros can be a little more consistent and remove some of the lackluster performances against clubs they should be beating, they can definitely challenge for the league title. They'll need some luck of course and even a near perfect season might not be enough, but at least we're talking about a third team in the title race in Spain.