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Atlético & The Return of Defensive Solidity

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"Of all the aspects from the opening stages of the season that will please El Cholo the most, the reconfigured and aligned defensive structure must be top of the list."

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Diego Simeone shuffled from side to side, the confines of his technical area forming a barrier similar to the laser beams that surround precious compartments in old bank heist movies. The Atletico manager is nominally a model of intensity, caged and ready to explode.

Decked out in his traditional all black attire, slicked back hair and beard, Simeone cuts the brooding figure of a mob villain. As Antoine Griezmann fired home his second goal of the game in injury time, the Argentine furiously punched the air in trademark fashion, the angst on his face replaced by an illuminating smile.

Atleti were at times excellent, but also wasteful during periods of the second half of last night's meeting with their more anonymous city rivals Getafe. A 2-0 victory at the Calderón was fraught with occasional worrisome moments, but that is inconsequential when three points have been safely harnessed.

Griezmann's form (he already has five goals this season) is an undoubted positive for Simeone, as is the apparent rejuvenation Fernando Torres is undergoing. Jackson Martinez is still settling through his initiation period, so attacking options look to be as strong as they have at any time in recent years.

The midfield is gelling into a nice balanced engine room, with Gabi especially impressive last night. Of all the aspects from the opening stages of the season that will please El Cholo the most, the reconfigured and aligned defensive structure must be top of the list.

There is an old adage that attacks win games, defences win titles. Based on recent history, that holds true. Alongside Diego Costa's brilliance, 2014's La Liga victory was built upon solid foundations at the back, as Los Colchoneros conceded just 26 goals.

Barcelona reclaimed the title in May with the concession of a meagre total of 21. Sure, they had the prolific front three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez to thank for contributing to their 110 goal total, but second placed Real Madrid outscored them with 118. It was Los Blancos shipping 38 at the other end that lost them the championship.

Early indications suggest that Atleti have recaptured the solidity that brought them to the precipice of Champions League glory. The Uruguayan terriers Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez have developed an intrinsic understanding as a centre back partnership, Juanfran is ever dependable defensively and sneakily effective in attacking areas.

Jan Oblak has emerged as an outstanding goalkeeper, capable of tipping matches in favour of his team with vital saves when called upon. The return of Filipe Luis is probably most significant, the Brazilian seamlessly slotting back into the position he vacated when he moved to Chelsea a year ago. Most impressive, however, is the clarity and confidence in which they all play together.

Atleti have kept five clean sheets in six matches so far, the only negative numbers in the goal column were chalked off against Luis Enrique's European champions. In fact, Neymar's freekick and Lionel Messi's winner were both pieces of ingenuity that would have befallen any other team in the world.

The aggression, cohesion and collectiveness that earmarked Atleti's title success a couple of seasons ago looks to be rekindled. If it takes Atleti back to La Liga's summit depends on if they can use the foundations at the back to create something brilliant further forward.