Hey everyone, I've interviewed Derek from www.atleticofans.com and he is a Atletico Madrid supporter over 6 years. He is also the creator of the website above and writes primarily reports and news about Atletico Madrid.
• How long have you been a supporter of Atletico Madrid and what prompted you to become one?
I've been following Atleti since they started their recovery from their two years in hell, the only seasons the club spent in Spain’s lower division. Around that time a new star was emerging, Fernando Torres, and it was his potential that caught my eye. I soon started watching Atlético’s games and realized it wasn't the player that made this team interesting to watch, it was actually the fans and the fantastic atmosphere at the stadium that had me hooked. Atleti were awful at the time, it was another couple years before we actually started playing in European competition again, but I became a fan.
• Are you a fan of any other clubs?
As a Dutchman, I’ll root for any Dutch club in European competition and I am very fanatical when Oranje play the big tournaments. But while I love to watch a lot of football, Atleti is the only club that excites me.
• How long have you been writing about Atletico Madrid?
I made a lot of e-friends on English language online forums such as Tiki-Taka.org and I became serious about writing about my beloved Atleti when we started the AtléticoFans-project. Our website www.AtleticoFans.com was launched in August 2010.
• Last season Atletico Madrid finished 5th in La Liga, but won the Europe League, what was your reaction and were the objectives met last season?
Finishing 5th in la Liga and losing a Champions League spot to Málaga in the last round was definitely disappointing, but obviously the Europa League title made up for a lot. There are no words to describe winning a major European trophy like that. We were at the same position just two years prior, but last season’s win was even more impressive because we swept Athletic Club after winning 12 straight games in the tournament. In 2010 we were fortunate to win the Europa League, last May we thoroughly deserved it. I was able to attend both games and I promise you, there’s no better feeling than seeing your team win a big final like that.
• Atletico Madrid has a very good start to the season, not just in La Liga, but winning the UEFA Super Cup, do you feel this will carry on throughout the season?
Right now we’re on a high and, as fans, we hope to enjoy our current run as long we can. We’ve just won a very tough away game at Betis and we’re now unbeaten in 7 games, but there’s going to be a point where the streak ends. Hopefully that won’t be for a while though!
• How does this season’s Atletico Madrid team compare to last season’s and what are the key differences?
On paper we haven’t improved. We lost good players like Domínguez and Salvio, while only cheap squad players were signed. It’s telling that we only spent a grand total of €1m this summer. But we actually are a better team, and all that is down to the Cholo factor. We've had a full pre-season with Diego Simeone in charge and he’s been able to work with his players, shape his team and to instill his tactics. After coming in during last season, we’re now profiting from a good season preparation with Simeone as our coach.
• Radamel Falcao has been really amazing last season and this as well, are you worried you might lose him to a big club this winter or next summer transfer window, certainly his father fancies other clubs.
It’s on my mind every time he scores, and as you know that happens often. With every goal that he scores, and with every goal that Torres does not score at Chelsea, I feel like a transfer is closer. Unfortunately big clubs like Atlético and Valencia are unable to hang on to their star players in today’s market, but hopefully we can at least keep him in Madrid until the end of the season. A transfer in January would be absolutely disastrous for our ambitions.
• Who would you say is Atletico Madrid’s most influential player and the weakest player?
Falcao is our most important player, but as mentioned before, the most influential person at the club is easily Diego Simeone. He’s transformed the team and created a cohesive and combative unit, in which there are no obvious flaws or weak links. Our biggest problem might not be in the first eleven, but with the bench, we’re a bit thin both offensively and defensively.
• Who is going to be Atletico Madrid’s key player this season?
• What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of your team this season?
Our biggest strength must be the players’ mentality and toughness. That, coupled with the individual ability of some of our forwards, makes us a dangerous team. So far this season we have conceded a high amount of goals, and that, along with the aforementioned weaker bench, could be our downfall this season.
• Any young players to watch out for that could be on a “break-out year”?
Koke has been with the first team since the 2010/11 season, but it seems that he has now earned a spot in the starting line-up and this could be the season that he really makes a mark for himself.
• Can Atletico Madrid win this season’s Europe League again, what would be the biggest obstacles in doing so and what about the Spanish cup?
The Europa League winner is more difficult to predict than the Champions League, because there are so many contenders and once the knock-out rounds start any team can go all the way. Atleti is definitely one of the favourites, but there are plenty of strong teams. At this moment I don’t think the Copa del Rey will be a priority, but you never know how far we might advance.
• How good do you think Valencia will do this season? Is it feasible to think that Valencia could win the Spanish championship or at least challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid?
Atlético and Valencia, along with Málaga and possibly Sevilla, will rival each other for a spot behind the big two. Don’t let Real Madrid’s poor start fool you; there is no way any team will keep up with them and Barça.
• What do you think are Valencia’s strengths and weaknesses?
I find it difficult to judge Valencia, as you’ve just started a new project with Pellegrino in charge. I think your defence is suspect, but what [I] admire about Valencia is their depth in midfield and in attack. There are a lot of good players to choose from and always plenty of good options coming off the bench. Hopefully for Valencia Éver Banega will soon return to full fitness, because, to me, he and Soldado are what sets Valencia apart.
• Who do you think will win the Champions League and Europa League this season?
Let’s see if we can get a Spanish double. Ever the optimist, I’ll go for Barcelona and Atlético!
I'd like to thank Derek again for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it and once again you can find Derek's articles about Atletico Madrid over at www.atleticofans.com