Atlético can draw inspiration from derby start

Manzano's men were well on their way to shocking the world before Courtois' red card

Salvio and Gabi celebrate with Adrián (AP)

Salvio and Gabi celebrate with Adrián (AP)

With only a match left to play after 13 rounds of La Liga, Atlético find themselves in the no-man’s land they’ve become accustomed to dwelling in the past couple of seasons.

In 2010/11 Atleti finished in seventh, a slight improvement on their ninth place finish from the year before.

Our current campaign is a week-to-week see-saw, with the fat kid sitting on the side representing our away games.

We have fallen to 11th in the league standings with 16 points, 10 points behind fourth place holders Levante.

For the most part (judging by predictions in our Prediction League section, most notably @palc’s bleak 93-0 stab at the final scoreline), coming into the derby on Saturday, all hope was lost – though I presume I wasn’t the only one who experienced a blind surge of optimism moments before the clash kicked off.

But when I saw our boys finally doing justice to our club anthem, “fighting like brothers and defending their colours”, with a “noble game” and “showing courage and heart”, as cheesy as it sounds, I started to believe.

This could be the day we end the ‘white spell’.

Adrián, Arda, Diego, Salvio, Filipe, Perea, Assuncao, all were playing some truly inspiring football, which reached a crescendo with Adrián’s wonderful strike that sucked the remaining life out of an already lifeless Santiago Bernabéu stadium.

Moments later, a hugely unfortunate incident abruptly tore us out of our dream.

We knew we were doomed, but nothing was going to take away the pride we had in our players. It was a moment of solidarity for the Colchonero faithful.

My wish is that the team draws inspiration from what they were able to achieve before Courtois was sent off and Real Madrid were awarded their first of two penalties.

Sergio Asenjo said it best on Saturday: “When we have desire and we run and fight, we are difficult to beat.”

Obviously, Atleti’s biggest problem is that they very rarely show the type of desire Asenjo spoke of, at least, on a consistent basis.

In the next couple of weeks, los Rojiblancos will be taking part in Europa League, Primera División and Copa del Rey action.

On paper, all of our matches in this final stretch of 2011 are what we’d consider winnable.

We’ll have to make do without Sílvio, and a solid backup should be at the top of Caminero’s priority list for the winter transfer market.

But if the rest of our squad can stay healthy, there’s no reason why we can’t springboard to a Champions League spot.

We hit the jackpot with the free transfer of Adrián. It’s no wonder now that Deportivo president Augusto Lendoiro pulled out all the stops to try to keep the 23-year-old in Coruña last summer.

Arda has proven to be as complete a player as they come, while Diego has given us glimpses into his box of treasures.

Once Falcao and Adrián get on the same page and start opening up more spaces for each other, they can become every bit as lethal as the duo that preceded them.

Reyes remains the biggest question mark. Can he take the high road and move past his feud with Manzano, and vice-versa?

While we’ll never know what the outcome would have been had Courtois remained in the game, it truly did feel like it was our time.

Am I alone in my optimism? Will we continue to be defrauded, or do you feel like this can be a turning point for the club?

  • Ringo

    All I have is hope, but I’ve had that before, so I really don’t know what will happen.

    I do expect a win on wednesday, though.

  • Javi

    Martin, I’m with you.
    Prior to the RM match I was resignated to another humiliating defeat given our recent past games showing no desire to win or fighting spirit. However, the first twenty minutes of that game brought back to me the inspiration and optimism I usually have for Atleti. Unfortunately, the first penalty brought us back to reality, even though we held them to 1-1 during the first half, and I can comfortably say that we dominated the first twenty minutes and controlled the rest of the first half-the second half was the usual crap. In fact, I was watching the game with two RM fans and during the first twenty minutes their faces were white and they were silent, showing their fear of finally loosing to Atleti in the Bernabeu.
    I think we showed that we can do it. I believe the players felt it and I have faith they can bring it back again for the next few games. The only way I do not see this team happening is if the next game we loose again like we did with Getafe, in that case I believe we will be done for the season. Remember if we are only ten points from CL positions and if we can control RM, we can certainly do it to the teams we have to play during the rest of the year since in my view RM is the best team on the planet right now.

  • DJ_ZA

    Nice one Martin. (especially liked the sing-along)

    Well here’s hoping the fat kid joins weight watchers…. better yet, an immediate case of bulemia’s required.

    But seriously, like you guys I’m always optimistic but….

    We’re all die-hard fans (otherwise we’d have given up ages ago and we wouldn’t be following this thread.) We haven’t done a heck of a lot of celebrating the last 12 months so optimisms all that’s left….but there’s always room for a reality check.
    Sure, we were great for a quarter of the match, but when are we going to play with the same intensity for the full 90?

    Defrauded or a (serious?) case of ill-discipline? If I think of the last 3 matches we’ve committed way too many fouls, (or am I off the mark?) – with our (lack of) discipline causing us not even a sniff of a point at the Bernabeú. Is it a becoming a problem or am I over-reacting? I’d love to hear opinions on this. Statisticians welcome too.

  • I don’t know.. I just don’t think Manzano is the right name for our bench. I don’t think he is ambitious enough to be leading us.. these rotations he always do drive me crazy and leave the team with no “mesh”.

    I think it was a bad choice and reconsider it.. just don’t know if it’s too soon.

  • palc

    Im actually quite optimistic. We haven’t had a better defence for a long long time and our attacking play is starting to take shape. Im sure the team will be better in the second half of the season. I do think a Champions League spot is in reach. As I see it, we have three competitors for the 4th spot. Malaga, Sevilla and Bilbao. These teams have had setbacks as well. We’re only seven points behind the best positioned team at this point. And we have a far more easier fixture now. I bet we will at most be three or four points behing the last CL spot when the second half of the season starts.

  • dgsozkan

    I’m with Will on this subject. Players ambition and desire at the beginning of the game made me a little more optimistic about team too. However, I’m still very pessimistic about Manzano. We have a great squad. Maybe we still need some additions like backup for full backs but we have some young and talented players. We just need a good leader. Manzano isn’t the right man for us.