Some weeks ago Diego Simeone said that he’d rather go forward once and score than create 15 opportunities without finding the net. Tonight just that happened.
Atlético travelled to Santander to take on Racing and should have comfortably won, but an incredible amount of chances were missed and the game at El Sardinero ended goalless.
Simeone was forced to make two changes to his line-up but left the rest of his team intact. In defence the injured Diego Godín and the suspended Miranda were replaced by two vice captains, Álvaro Domínguez and Luis Perea.
Atlético Madrid started strongly with Arda Turan and Adrián involved in every attacking set-up, always searching for Falcao to finish the move. The Colombian had two enormous opportunities early on, but first he was flagged offside and a minute later he headed straight at goalkeeper Toño from only a couple yards out.
After a cross by Adrián, Diego attempted a spectacular bicycle kick and Falcao couldn’t follow up on the rebound. Some minutes later Falcao was clean through on goal but was given offside, although replays suggested the striker should have been allowed to continue as the pass from Adrián came at just the right moment.
The Rojiblancos dominated the first half, but were unable to finish their chances. Arda tried twice from the edge of the box, but shot well wide of the target.
Even Filipe Luis tried his luck, but the left back saw his shot stopped by Toño. Filipe also picked up a yellow card for diving, which means he is now suspended for our next la Liga match, next week against Sporting.
Shortly before the break Atleti almost scored an absolutely fantastic team goal, but Adrián’s seemingly comfortable finish was saved by Toño with his feet. Diego had played a lob over the Racing defence, which Falcao delivered to Tiago. With a clever backheel the Portuguese provided Adrián with an easy chance, but once again Toño shut us out.
The ‘keeper continued to be our biggest obstacle as he denied Arda with a spectacular save.
Right after the break the home side created their only chance of the match. Adrián González made space for himself outside the box and tested Courtois with a low drive. The Belgian shotstopper hasn’t conceded in la Liga since the 18th of December when Roque Santa Cruz scored in injury time, and has been unbeaten for 540 minutes.
Atleti immediately took over the reigns again and continued to create chances. Diego hit the post after a one-two with Adrián through the heart of the Racing defence.
And just three minutes later Atleti again hit the woodwork, with despair starting to set in. Diego forced Toño to a save with a powerful shot from the edge of the area and Falcao hit the post as he slid in for the rebound.
After Falcao headed a cross back to Adrián, the number 7 was given another opportunity to score, but Toño seemed to be magnetically attracting everything we threw at him.
Two close range headers, by Mario and then Falcao, still weren’t enough to beat Racing’s 32-year old captain.
The final opportunity was for Pizzi, far into the added time. The substitute’s shot was saved by Toño who stopped our 12th attempt on goal of the match, and in the end managed to keep a clean sheet.
There was little more Atlético could have done, as we played a nearly flawless game. Unfortunately the only thing we failed to do was bang in a goal or two.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Perea, Domínguez, Filipe; Diego, Tiago (“44 Mario Suárez), Gabi, Arda (“70 Pizzi); Adrián and Falcao.