Zee Media Bureau/Rajdeep Saha
New Delhi: If there was anyone who could pay dividends of Atletico Madrid`s attacking potency, it is none other than Mario Mandzukic. The Croat, a summer signing from Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, rose to the occasion on Friday as he helped his side beat Real Madrid 1-0 to win the Super Cup at the Vincente Calderon. A trophy to start the season with, will be of immense joy to coach Diego Simeone and his working class heroes.
Atletico Madrid needed a solution for the exit of Diego Costa to Chelsea, and with Mandzukic, they have addressed the crisis satisfactorily. The former Bayern star, volleyed in a shot for goal past Iker Casillas after a delightful cross by Frenchman, Antoinne Griezmann. It was a perfect start for the hosts with the goal coming in just 90 seconds after the start of the match. After that Atletico did what they do best, not losing focus.
The striker was given a huge ovation when he was withdrawn with six minutes remaining; it promises to become more of a regular feature at the Calderon. For Mandzukic, it was an impressive demonstration of his qualities. His defensive acumen, swift runs and aerial prowess prove his mettle and that is something which Simeone will cherish the most from him.
“In the box, there is no one better in the air in the world. When we get the ball there he is very, very strong,” Bayern Munich coach, Pep Guardiola had said of Mandzukic, last season. He was a big hit for the German giants during his spell there, but the arrival of Polish striker Robert Lewandowski and differences with Guardiola saw Mandzukic leave the Bavarians.
Atletico have boasted of producing world class strikers over the years. From the likes of Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa, the Spanish side have had some big names. Mandzukic looks a proven worker to carry forward the success of his predecessors and his 48 goals in just 88 matches suggests a successful statistic of his numbers. As a player his work ethic is of very high standards just what the rest of the Atletico players are used to under Simeone.
Atletico`s working class heroes have come out stronger and better than Real Madrid and Barcelona`s elite stars since last season and Simeone knows his men`s abilities in getting the job done, week after week.
He has carried it out brilliantly so far and it looks like he will continue doing so. Under Diego Simeone, Atletico have won the Europa League, the Copa del Rey, the league, the European Super Cup and now the Spanish Super Cup. A feat which very few managers achieve, a feat which is achieved by a limited squad.
As the league begins and a new Champions league campaign starts, Atletico will hope Mandzukic comes out on top and helps his side overcome their rivals.