El Centrocampista

Can ‘Super Mario’ live up to expectations in Madrid?

Over the past couple of decades, it would be accurate to say that Atletico Madrid have had more than their fair share of attacking talent.

From club legend Kiko in the 90’s, right through to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Fernando Torres, Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero and of course the recently departed Diego Costa.
Hoping to add his name to that list is new signing Mario Mandzukic who will look to fill the void left by Diego Costa’s departure to Chelsea, and fire Simeone’s men to a second consecutive La Liga triumph.

The former Munich man arrives at the Vicente Calderon in fantastic pedigree, and while reputation alone cannot guarantee success, there is a real hope that the Croatian might just be the perfect fit for Atleti.

His departure from Bayern has said to have come about because he didn’t fit into Guardiola’s possession-based style, something that shouldn’t provide a problem at Atletico whose style under Simeone is much more direct.

Comparisons will, and already have, be made towards Costa, and despite their obvious differences, there are some parallels in both of their games. Both are good in the air and their selfishness makes them the stereotypical Simeone striker.

However whilst Costa would often drift into wide areas, Mandzukic will be a central focus point for this new-look Atlético side. Alert in the box, he will be relishing the opportunity to feed on the likes of Koke and Griezmann’s through balls.

Reports have suggested, Simeone is ready to move away from is title-winning 4-4-2 system and switch to a 4-2-3-1 and that certainly has been the way that he has set his team up in pre-season thus far.

It is a system that will undoubtedly be to the benefit of Mandzukic and the Croatian will once again be the main point of attack, as he is for his country and was previously at Wolfsburg and for Bayern.

He will be hopeful of bringing his record of 53 goals in 110 appearances in his four-year stint in Germany across to La Liga. The striker bagged 18 goals in 21 Bundesliga starts last season; also grabbing five goals coming off the bench from nine substitute appearances.

And even though he was suspended for the opening game of the World Cup against Brazil, he still managed two goals in two games – both coming in a 4-1 Croatia win over a hapless Cameroon side.
The move to Madrid is a brave one and it’s a new challenge in his career that he will have to meet it head on, as he looks to continue the ever-growing trend and step into the shoes of all the top strikers before him. He has the ability and mentality to succeed in Madrid; it will be up to him to showcase them both to his new club.

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