Football: Atletico are the real deal despite Falcao sale
BARCELONA (REUTERS) - Having absorbed the body blow of losing striker Radamel Falcao in the close season, Atletico Madrid have emerged as genuine contenders to break the title stranglehold of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Four straight league wins to go top of the table and a convincing 3-1 victory over Zenit St Petersburg in their Champions League opener mean Atletico are being viewed as a force at home and abroad.
The only blot in a near-perfect start to the season was their narrow away-goals defeat to Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup after the first and second legs ended in draws.
Atletico's unbeaten record is even more impressive considering last season's top scorer, Colombian international Falcao, left for Monaco in a transfer worth more than 50 million euros (S$84 million) in May.