The focus might be firmly and fairly fixed on outgoing Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, but Atletico Madrid are also approaching the end of an era as they head into Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first-leg trip to Emirates Stadium.
The Spanish side are facing a summer of change, with iconic forward Fernando Torres definitely leaving and the futures of key men, forward Antoine Griezmann and goalkeeper Jan Oblak, in considerable doubt.
Furthermore, a number of the players who have been fundamental fixtures in Diego Simeone’s side for the last few years are approaching the end of their careers.
Atletico’s ability to compete on an even footing with Barcelona and Real Madrid over the last few years has been admirable, and Simeone’s men are on track to hold off city rivals Real and claim a second-place finish in La Liga this season.
Arsenal’s biggest challenge will be finding the back of the net, because Atletico’s challenge is founded – as it has been throughout the Simeone era, which began in 2011 – on a magnificent defensive record.
So it’s clear that Arsenal need to establish a solid advantage from the first leg, but it won’t be easy for Wenger’s men to find their way past incredibly consistent goalkeeper Oblak.
So the names might be mostly different from the famous Atletico defences of recent years, but thanks to Simeone’s meticulous drilling they are still incredibly difficult to score against. And just to make things even harder, the Argentine boss has said he’s considering using an extra centre-back and employing a five-man defence against Arsenal on Thursday.