AtlAi??tico Madrid are TheHardTackle’s Club of the Season after a sensational and memorable 2013/2014.

It could be argued that Real Madrid would also deserve this award, having won their 10th Champions League trophy, but the distinction goes to their city rivals AtlAi??tico Madrid, who were easily the biggest story of the season in European football. With a squad cheaper than the likes of Bale and Neymar alone, AtlAi??tico Madrid embarked on an incredible run and never let up, clinching the La Liga title on the last day at Camp Nou, thus becoming the first team to break the Barcelona-Real Madrid duopoly in La Liga since Rafael Benitez’s Valencia in 2004 – at a time where the financial imbalance wasn’t quite as enourmous as it is now. When you look at each club’s resources and compare the squads, it defies belief that AtlAi??tico Madrid are the 2013/2014 La Liga champions, but that’s why they deserve to be named the club of the season: Diego Simeone built a powerful unit, where the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts; while they might not be as talented as some other sides, they made up for it in tactics, discipline and sheer will to win.

The most impressive aspect of AtlAi??tico’s campaign, though, is that they won the title while making it to the semifinals in the Copa del Rey and sustaining an incredible Champions League run all the way to the final – where only an added time Sergio Ramos equalizer kept AtlAi??tico from lifting their first Champions League trophy. It was a disappointing end to what could have been an even more memorable season, but it doesn’t erase all the great work Simeone and his players did during the season. The Champions League trophy would have simply been the cherry on top.

In 2013/2014, AtlAi??tico played 60 official matches in four different competitions: they won 42, tied 12 and lost 6, scored 116 and conceded 45 – an extraordinary defensive record that cements AtlAi??tico 2013/2014 as one of the toughest teams to break down in football history, they simply don’t give their opponents any space to work with. At the end of the season, AtlAi??tico only captured one title but all things considered it was inarguably one of the greatest feats in modern football history and that is why they are TheHardTackle’s Club of the Season.

AtlAi??tico’s success was so dependent on their teamwork and everyone helping each other in every phase of the game that it’s not easy to highlight individuals; still, apart from Simeone, the incredibly solid back 5 of Courtois, Luis, Miranda, Godin and Juanfran deserves a lot of credit, they were easily the most impregnable defensive unit in Europe this year; in front of them, the captain Gabi and Tiago played with relentless energy and covered the defense perfectly; the likes of Koke and Arda Turan had their best ever seasons, while Diego and Adrian certainly contributed their fair share. David Villa proved that he’s still got a lot of football left in him with a very solid season, far from his best but still a great contributor in a title-winning squad. The star of the show, however, was Diego Costa, a man who embodies everything AtlAi??tico Madrid 2013/2014 is all about: not the most flashy player, but efficient and relentlessly determined – a man with not only the ability to score plenty of goals but literally drag the entire team forward at times. He epitomizes Diego Simeone’s AtlAi??tico Madrid to perfection.

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