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Atlético Femenino prepare for new season, new challenges

The two-time defending league champions aim to make more history in 2018/19.

Atlético Femenino added more silverware to their trophy cabinet last spring as they defended successfully their Liga Iberdola title after a close two-horse race with rivals Barcelona.

Atlético went on to win 10 of their final 15 league fixtures, which was enough for them to win the title by a single point over the side from Catalunya.

After three draws in four outings, including a nerve-wrecking 2-2 away at Athletic Club, Atletico handed down a 1-0 defeat to Valencia to gain momentum ahead of their direct encounter with Barcelona in Catalunya.

While that game finished in a 1-1 stalemate, the match was witnessed by a record 271,000 people, who watched it unfold on Spanish TV channel GOL. According to reports in Spain, 140,000 people watched the pre-game show while 170,000 people stuck to the channel after the game for the post-match programme — an impressive feat for a nation that is starting to have its say in women’s football.

A week later, Atlético hosted Madrid CFF at the Wanda Metropolitano. Another big crowd of 22,000 attended, but Atleti could not prevail as the city rivals held them to a 2-2 draw.

However, a seven-match winning streak including wins over Real Betis, Sevilla and Espanyol helped Atlético clinch the Spanish championship.

Unfortunately, Lady Luck was not with the ladies in the Copa de la Reina final, as Barcelona scored a 123rd minute goal to take back the domestic cup.

Movements ahead of next season

The team has two big vacancies to fill — their coach and one of their top players both departed this summer.

Ángel Villacampa, the two-time championship winning manager, left his post after the 2017/2018 season. His replacement will be Jose Luis Sanchez Vera, who has been a sports performance analyst at the club for the past couple years. He was part of the coaching staff of CD San Roque for a decade and most recently, he received a Level 3 coaching patent provided by the Spanish FA.

Sonia Bermúdez ended her successful stint in the capital as well, as she moved to Levante. The forward and Spain international will take her goals and experience with her, but Atlético have tried to strengthen with two important names coming in.

The first one is Elena Linari, an Italian defender who has joined from Fiorentina. Linari, 24, will most probably cover the absence of Andrea Pereira and form a solid relationship with backline partners Kenti Robles and Carmen Menayo.

Last year, Linari played 22 Serie A games with Fiorentina and scored eight goals as she displayed an impressive offensive side to her game. The Italy international won three championships, four Coppas Italia and two Super Cups.

Another player who has joined the club is Dolores, a midfielder who last year was at SC Braga.

(No, not that Dolores.)

Dolores, 26, is part of the Portugal national setup chasing a place in next year’s World Cup in France. She played in Germany with Duisburg and USV Jena before moving to Portugal.