The ‘Cholo’ Factor

Atlético run riot over La Real en route to their first victory away from home

Simeone works his magic on Diego and Gabi (EFE)

Simeone works his magic on Diego and Gabi (EFE)

Diego Simeone’s Atlético secured their first Primera División away triumph of the season in very convincing fashion, pummeling Real Sociedad 4-0 at Anoeta on Saturday.

When Simeone was formally unveiled at Atlético Madrid days before the New Year arrived, he laid out some of his objectives for the club.

The Argentine tactician and former Colchonero had told those in attendance at the Vicente Calderón:

“We’re looking for the best way to make the players that we have available function.

“I want to see an aggressive, strong, combative and determined team.”

True to his word, the 41-year-old has managed to exorcise the demons that were haunting the squad throughout the final weeks of Gregorio Manzano’s short reign, and has gotten los Colchoneros to play in a boldly assertive manner.

Simeone’s men have exhibited soldierly discipline in maintaining their shape and have shown, in these first three matches ‘El Cholo’ has been in charge, that they are committed to the cause and are willing to offer their maximum effort.

This renewed sense of duty was epitomised by our performance in San Sebastián Saturday night.

Los Rojiblancos suffocated the Txuri-urdin for most of the clash and limited them to only a single shot on target, recording their third clean sheet on the trot.

With less possession, Atlético created significantly more chances, some of which a sublime Falcao pounced on while on his way to his second hat-trick of the current campaign.

It’s hard to believe that this is the same team that was left in tatters following a precipitous drop in form in December.

Somehow, just one month later, Atleti have narrowed the distance between themselves and the European spots in the league table.

Simeone continues to exercise restraint
“When we arrived, we understood that we would take it match-by-match and we’re not going to change regardless of the result,” said Simeone in the post-game press conference.

“What interests us most is if the team improves or not, if individual performances contribute to making the group better, and if we better interpret how to run less to recover [the ball] more. That’s the only thing we’re concerned about.

“After that, it’s normal that football lives off of moods and, today, the mood of the Atlético Madrid fan is one of joy.”

‘El Cholo’ then offered his take on the way the clash evolved.

“The first 30 minutes were really good,” he said.

“Then, we fell a little in the match and Real Sociedad took ownership of the ball. We stopped pressuring in the right spots. We had to drop back a lot more than I would have liked and we [ended the half] pinned back because Real Sociedad played very well at the end of the first half.”

He continued: “Before the start of the second half we spoke about where we needed to be to do better.

“I think it was important to find the goal right away at the re-start and, later, the composure of the players to resolve the match was very good.”

Simeone praised his players, who he felt offered “great commitment” and “a great effort”.

“I’m very happy with the players because they have quickly understood the message that individual performances strengthen the team.

“Miranda has done very well, Godín has done very well, Juanfran, Diego…the men that came in ended up resolving the match with a lot of quality.

“It shows the group is okay and that we have to continue with a lot of calm because we know football changes often.”

Finally, the former Racing de Avellaneda boss explained the keys to a shut out.

“It’s an objective within the games to not concede a goal and to try to defend well,” he said.

“Attacking well is also defending because you are closer to the ball when you attack because you don’t allow the opposing team to counter-attack after one of your attacks because you are attentive…because you are close to the opponent.

“I believe that’s what we experienced today.”

Notes and observations:

  • When Falcao bagged a brace in our last game against Villarreal his coach was unsatisfied, telling the press the Colombian should have scored three goals. Radamel apparently took Simeone’s words to heart, striking for three this time around. “Falcao is a player that adapts to everything and is very good at getting himself unmarked,” said Simeone of the club’s leading scorer, now with 14 goals in La Liga to close out the first half of the season and 17 goals overall. Coming into the match, the forward had only scored two goals in our previous eight away league matches. El Tigre’ is the first Atleti player to score two hat tricks in one league campaign since the 1997/98 season, when Italian hitman Christian Vieri put three past Zaragoza and hit Salamanca with four (via @pedritonumeros).
  • Juanfran has been a revelation at right back the last two weeks, taking his game to another level against La Real. The former Osasuna man, who now looks very comfortable in his new role, was one of our most dangerous players and it appears he has supplanted Luis Perea as Sílvio’s back-up. Simeone will face a dilemma when the Portuguese defender is fully fit, as it will be hard to justify removing Juanfran from the back line.
  • With the exception of an embarrassing whiff in front of the goal in the first half, Adrián put together another terrific outing. It’s amazing the Asturian forward ended up at Atleti like Moses in a baby basket last summer. How did so much quality elude the eyes of Europe’s sporting directors? The former Deportivo man took his tally up to 12 goals in all competitions this year, one more than his highest season total while in Galicia.
  • These are lonely days for Courtois. I mention the young Belgian here only out of pity. The youngster, thanks to the tactics implemented by Simeone, has been forced out of the lime light somewhat but always looks to be well-positioned and alert in the rare instances our opponents have sniffed the goal these past couple of games.
  • Domínguez  came off the bench for his 100th first team appearance. The youth product was available this week after having served his one-match ban last week. Nonetheless, Simeone elected Miranda over the Madrid-born defender. Alvaro came in late for Arda though, and was involved in the play that led to Falcao’s third goal. Here’s the breakdown of the 22-year-old’s 100 appearances in red and white: 62 in league, 13 in Spanish cup, 5 in European Cup, 19 in Europa League and 1 in European Super Cup.
  • Koke replaced Diego in the 80th minute and quickly provided two assists to Falcao. The beloved canterano dazzled fans, fully taking advantage of his 10 minutes on the pitch. The 20-year-old could be in line for a start at Osasuna given Diego’s suspension.
  • It was, at best, a mediocre performance by Mario Suárez. The Rojiblanco youth product started in place of a suspended Tiago, whose growing shoes he simply failed to fill.
  • Diego and Gabi each saw their fifth yellow card and will miss out on our trip to Pamplona next week. The Brazilian’s booking was the more frustrating of the two, and not because of his crucial role as the team’s playmaker; rather, his card was disappointing because it was completely avoidable. The last two times Diego has been shown yellow it has been because of excessive protesting. Of the pair’s unavailability next weekend, Simeone said: “We will try to work on it during the week the best way possible to be able to rely on other men who have a lot of desire to play, as we saw today. We have Salvio, we have Koke…we’ll see later on who plays.”

  • dgsozkan

    Cholo shook up the team in a very short time. The team in last game was the Atletico we missed.

    First of all , Adrian and Falcao should play together like Sociedad and Villarreal games. We scored 7 goals and more importantly 4 of them was in the away game against Sociedad. Falcao scored 5 goals and Adrian scored one goal and delivered one assist. It’s obvious that we are offensively more efficient when Adrian and Falcao play together.

    Juanfran was the most suprising element in the previous games. I actually have forgetten that we have Juanfran for a while.Yet, I’m not sure about him keep playing as first 11 player. Even though he has showed good offensive performances, I’m not convinced his defensive skills yet.

    Gabi was very good in the last game. Still, I’m not sure about Mario Suarez.Actually I have some doubts about Tiago also. We will see that who will take that spot either one of them or someone entirely different on coming weeks.

    Last of all Koke was spectacular last night. Two assist in 10 minutes. He has proved that he deserves more role in the team. Next game could be the chance he seeks. I hope he will be the starter for Diego’s place.

  • Ringo Schut

    I hope Koke starts as CM, because Gabi is suspended as well. Salvio could start in Diego’s place.

  • falcao
  • dgsozkan

    Tiago isn’t irreplaceable. If we sign one or two solid midfielder as we should , it would be harder for him to find regular place in the team. Yet, I hope he’ll leave the club- if he leaves- at summer because at this moment his departure would criple our squad depth in midfield area.

  • Javi Lozoya

    The Simeone effect is beyond question no doubt about it, although it’s still pretty early to say that everything is fixed now, he has been in command of Atleti for only 3 matches now, Atleti still has the second half of the season to go but I recognize Simeone is doing great work so far, he has changed the players mentality to fight every ball as if it was the last one, players like are Diego doing defensive chores and recovering balls, in fact all the players are doing defensive chores when the team doesn’t have the possession of the ball, pressuring the rival, etc..,The whole squad seems committed with the club’s cause, it also seems very united and strong, and willing to their best efforts on the pitch. He solved the flimsy defending, players like I personally thought needed to leave Atleti for sure like Godín or Miranda are now having very good performances, Juanfran also is been doing great, hope they keep up the good work. Also, somehow he solved the midfield deficiencies too, players like Tiago or Gabi who seemed to be not good enough for Atleti are now doing a great job, Tiago has a good fitness now, I’m wondering what the heck did Simeone do to get him fit. In addition, Cholo’s is showing that he is a good strategist and tactician, he knows how to position his team well on the pitch and that’s why the players are performing so well now, he has also given Atleti a real identity like when he himself was an Atlético player, the team has an own style now and a team spirit. There’s no doubt that Simeone is a capable coach and is the perfect manager for Atleti, let’s just hope the team keeps having good results and that Simeone keeps being the Atleti coach for many years to come.

  • javi l,i fine you does write so long comments(lol):-]

  • no offense
    just funny and im laughing

  • i dont mean it in a bad way so if it bothers you im sorry

  • Davide

    I heard a rumour that Arda will be replacing Diego in the centre against Osasuna, keeping possession and pulling all the playmaking strings.

    Which might mean Koke will be replacing Gabi as the 2 way player??

    Personally i hope the rumour about Arda at Osasuna is true, i think he would be a excellent choice for a playmaker in place of Diego. His quick feet, technique, vision and passing is very good.

    Then Adrian should play on the left and Salvio on the right for this game.

  • Urban

    Dvide – agree in full with you mate, would be great to play in that lineup:

    TC – Juanfran, Godin, Domin, FL – Tiago. Koke – Adri, Arda, Salvio – Tigre

  • Gert

    Still no Silvio?
    I do prefer him over Juanfran at right back, although Juanfran has been stable these last 2 games.


  • dgsozkan

    Yeah it makes sense. Arda suits playmaker role better. I wish Koke will the first choice for Gabi’s place. Actually I would like to see Gabi and Koke playing together , I think this formation in the CM area could be best combination for the team. Nevertheless, it is impossible for the next match anyway. Let’s focus on the possible ones.

    Arda would be succesful in Diego’s place. Koke showed excellent performance in the last game even though he played only for 10 minutes. He should be replacing Gabi I believe. I still expecting something good from Salvio. He is not reckless it’s a plus .He is trying to achieve something all the time when he is on the ground. Yet, he should score some goals , deliver some assist or at least take in charge in goal positions. I know he is capable of doing all of this. He just needs to reach his potential to meet our expactations.

  • falcao

    according to the latest rumours Atletico is interested in Wellington from Sao Paolo he is DM
    he is very good