At the tail end of last season, La Liga’s usual duopoly was broken by Atletico Madrid and in what was an enthralling three-horse race for the Spanish crown, it was the Wanda Metropolitano outfit which came out on top.
Fast forward seven months and the team that won the title in dramatic circumstances, is now creating more drama of its own – albeit for all the wrong reasons and this season’s iteration of Atletico, is a pale imitation of the last.
Going into the festive break, the red and white half of Madrid find themselves lying fifth in the standings and an eye-watering 17 points behind their crosstown rivals and current table toppers Real.
While there was little in the way of early festive cheer on Wednesday night, as they were beaten on the road by Granada and with Diego Simeone now overseeing a four successive league defeats, the pressure is starting to mount on the Argentine’s shoulders.
There is no doubt that the former midfielder turned manager has an incredible amount of credit in the bank and there is little to suggest that a departure is imminent. Then again, a run such as this cannot continue and failure to finish in the top-four may hasten any potential departure.
Which is why their meeting with Rayo Vallecano on January 2nd is so important. Not only in terms of Champions League qualification but also to end their wretched run of form. While failure to turn things around at the start of the New Year, will only put Atletico further under the microscope.