The red and white aftermath: Week 26

Crucial points in the bag ahead of trips to Istanbul and Mallorca

atletico madrid striker radamel falcao gestures at a small section of the vicente calderon that jeered him during the match against granada

Falcao's gesture in response to catcalls on Sunday

Atlético got the job done against Granada on Sunday, picking up the critical three points in play simply by going through the motions at the Vicente Calderón.

The end result seemed to be a foregone conclusion in the days and hours leading up to the clash, but the league rules mandate that 22 players must actually line up and play for a full 90 minutes before points can be distributed.

The dull effort put on display by los Colchoneros, funnily enough, was good for the same reward that our hard-fought battles against Racing, Sporting, Barcelona and Sevilla combined amounted to.

Football can be so nutty sometimes.

Other La Liga results over the weekend tended to mostly favour Atleti, who inched up to eighth in the league table and are now four points behind fourth-place Málaga.

Diego Simeone’s men, evidently exhausted from the non-stop action resulting from simultaneous participation in two competitions, face three days of rest before embarking on a grueling stretch of four games in a span of 10 days, beginning with a trip to Istanbul for the second leg of our Europa League last 16 fixture versus Beşiktaş on Thursday, and then it’s off to Mallorca on Sunday.

Should anyone remain standing, we are scheduled to host a mighty Athletic Bilbao on the 21st of March before hitting the road once again Zaragoza-bound the following match week.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone pleased with result despite lacklustre effort
‘El Cholo’, who took his record at the helm of Atlético to 7 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss, served as the conductor of the masses at the Vicente Calderón Sunday, especially in the waning minutes of the affair.

Fans in attendance began growing restless with their team’s uninspired performance and enthusiasm was fading quickly as the clock continued to tick towards full time in spite of a slim, seemingly safe 1-0 lead.

In an effort to drum up support for his men, Simeone signalled the crowd, composed of a near capacity 54,000 people, to turn up the stadium’s volume by violently throwing his arms up-and-down on the sidelines.

“I’d invite the fans to sit on the bench and hear when the crowd is shouting, it’s thrilling,” said the Calderón’s maestro in the post-game press conference.

“I greatly value when the team wins without playing well, because that means you are achieving stability. You can’t always play well.”

Simeone continued: “It’s exciting what the players are doing. When things aren’t going well for us with the ball, they resolve [the game] in other ways.”

Falcao responds to a small group of detractors with a goal
“Falcao didn’t play a good game, but I never thought about taking him out because he is a goalscorer and I knew he would end up scoring a goal,” Simeone said of his squad’s leading scorer.

The Colombian striker, who really did struggle in all aspects of his game on Sunday, was clearly affected by the catcalls that rained down upon him with about 15 minutes left to go from a small sector of the stands at the Calderón.

Nothing seemed to be going right for ‘El Tigre’, and impatient fans let him have it.

In a Forlánesque moment of weakness and against his better judgment, when Falcao just did manage to get one past Granada keeper Júlio César thanks to a spectacular run by Juanfran, he confronted his doubters by holding his hand to his ear in a “I can’t hear you now” gesture (see photo above).

Coincidentally, Falcao tied Uruguayo’s first-year-at-Atleti goal total of 16 in La Liga, nabbing his 21st overall strike of his inaugural Colchonero campaign.

With a little more luck, the 26-year-old could have had a brace, his final shot with seconds left to play smacking against the post.

The former Porto man wisely avoided further controversy when he commented on the win on Twitter later in the evening.

“After 5 games well played and no victories achieved, today we won again. We didn’t play a great match but we’re closer to the Champions!” he wrote.

Midfielder Mario Suárez used his own Twitter account to express his support for Falcao.

“I’m happy for my friend ‘El Tigre’ Falcao!! When there was some or other strange noise he took off and saved the team!! You are great! forza atleti”, he tweeted out.

While Mario’s heart was in the right place in defending his team-mate, if anyone took off and saved the team, that person was Juanfran.

Juanfran hailed as hero, credits young boy in the crowd who gave him water
In Apocalypto-like running-for-his-life fashion, the former Osasuna man bolted up the right flank for an epic full-field sprint in injury time getting past no less than three opponents before knocking a square pass into the box to Falcao who hammered home our 2-0 insurance goal.

It was the 27-year-old’s crowning achievement while donning a red and white shirt, and his team-mates made sure to let him know as much during the celebration of the goal and as they headed into the locker room after the final whistle had blown.

In a story reminiscent of a biblical parable, Juanfran told Spanish paper El Pais afterwards:

“In the 70th or 80th minute, I asked a fan for water, no one had any, and a kid came out with a bottle,” he said.

“That water gave me strength to endure the last 10 minutes and the run I made, and I told him that I would give him my shirt later.”

The winger-turned-right back was modest about his breathtaking assist.

“It was a good gallop that ‘El Tigre’ finished off well,” he said.

“If it hadn’t ended up as a goal, the play would not be seen anywhere and no one would ever remember it.”

He continued: “I’m very proud, especially because it has taken a lot for me. My beginnings at Atlético haven’t been as good as I had expected and I have worked very hard for these days to come and for people to acknowledge my work, though I don’t need them to [cheer my name], only that they see that I am a hard worker.”

Miranda scores his first goal with Atlético
Brazilian centre back Miranda, after only 31 matches, did what fellow defender Luis Amaranto Perea has been unable to do in 307 appearances with Atleti: score a goal (though one always feels obliged to mention Perea’s wrongly disallowed goal against Real Madrid back in the 2006/07 season; his celebration and then reaction to finding out it didn’t count will break your heart every single time).

Minutes earlier, the former São Paulo man had very clumsily struck a chance in front of goal that veered way off the mark and towards the corner flag, surely evoking some mocking giggles among the Colchonero faithful.

His spectacular scissor-kick volley elicited quite the opposite reaction.

Injury round-up:

Arda reappears
Arda Turan was handed some playing time in the second half as expected, replacing Salvio in the 69th minute, and looked to be fully fit again.

“Arda gave us tranquility and helped us rest with the ball,” said Simeone about the Turkish playmaker before adding that “the final minutes were the best of the match”.

Sílvio to go under the knife
It goes from bad to worse for the versatile Portuguese full back. Sílvio, Atlético’s official site reported, will have surgery on Monday in Portugal to repair ligaments in his sprained left knee.

It’s unclear if this operation is of the arthroscopic variety that Antonio López underwent earlier in the season, or if it will be the major type that will keep him out for six to nine months.

Whatever the case may be, it seems very unlikely the 24-year-old will see any more action before the end of the season, though we will report on the details of the procedure once they are known.

Diego set for return against Zaragoza
Midfield architect Diego, according to AS reporter Dani Hidalgo, has his sights set on a return for our match against Real Zaragoza at the Romareda on the 25th of March.

The on-loan footballer ran apart from the group at the club’s Cerro del Espino training facility on Monday.

Antonio López has recovered from his ailments
Atleti skipper Antonio López fully trained on Monday and is at his coach’s disposal for our upcoming games.

Tiago remains on the shelf
The former Juventus man worked out indoors as he continues to be on the mend. It’s unclear when he is expected to be available again.

Other notes:

  • Diego Godín picked up his second assist of the season with his headed pass to Miranda on our first goal, while Juanfran’s assist was his first on the year.
  • 19-year-old Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois bagged his 17th shutout of the season. With 12 clean sheets in La Liga now, Atleti are second to Barcelona in the category. The Culés got their 13th on Sunday.
  • Rojiblanco youth product Gabi took part in his 100th game with Atlético on Sunday.
  • Filipe Luis served his one-match ban and will be available (barring injury) next week when we take on Mallorca.

  • ali_

    i remember that when i heard that we gonna sign juanfran, i was like: whaaaat?! for what?! i tought that he is just an average player or even worse, but now he is one of my favourite player.

  • Derek Maaijen

    A brilliant recap of the game Martin

  • JohnGreece

    Guys, does anyone know what’s going on with our transfer policy?Lately we spend way too much in buying players,whereas we give our top class players almost free.For instance we gave 45 M for Falcao, 8 M for Juanfran etc. and got minor fees for Reyes,Forlan,Simao AND De Gea.Suspicious???Or it is just poor business??

  • shlomgar

    JhonGreece I know what you mean, Aguero was strangely cheep, but Forlan was outrageously given away for nothing. Juanfran cost 8M? Think about it. A couple of weeks ago he was worth nothing, now, after Adrian probably best purchase.

  • starvs

    Falcao was very expensive, but okay business, he is quite good after all.

    Reyes was a cancer we had to let go for cheap. Simao and Forlan were both getting older and not having their best seasons when they were let leave (plus Simao under former sporting director anyway)

    Turan, Miranda, and Adrian deals were all very good deals. In fact Adrian and Miranda pickups have to be the best free signing duo in the entire world last year.

    I liked Juanfran from day one, his debut was against Real last year, and he was more fired up and pissed off about the injustices we were receiving than anyone else on our team.

  • Mais

    i thought we payed like 7 mil for

  • Javi Lozoya

    He arrived for free if not mistaken.

  • Mais

    well thats good news i wasnt expecting

    I miss him terribly. He needs to recover. Please check the video. 🙁

  • Javi Lozoya

    Don’t want to be harsh on Arda as he is a great player but he was overpriced in my humble opinion, and he has spent a significant amount injured. For those 15M we could have signed players like Isla, Isco, Piatti, etc…,. His price ratio was expensive but that doesn’t mean he is not a great player. He is and one of the bests in his position in the world.

  • Hey Diego is the best playmaker we have in the squad right now and i miss him. I wish he hadnt gotten injured and we would’ve had him against Barcelona and beats the asses. Diego you are a TRUE talent
    Aupa Atleti!!!

  • Mais

    Javi L, you may be right about other players being better, but keep in mind that they have to want to come to atleti..i dont think piatti was keen on that, or at least the press never gave any indication he did

  • Javi Lozoya

    True, although Valencia was quicker to sign Piatti while our board was eating their boogers, and I want to clarify I didn’t said those players are better than Arda but rather they would’ve been cheaper. But like I said, Arda is a great player and it’s great to have him as Atleti and it’s just that his price was expensive in my opinion, but that doesn’t matter now, the important thing is Arda is with us.

  • Sinan

    @ Javi Lozoya

    Then the value of Arjen Robben should be 1 Miljon ? One tackle on him, and he’s out for like 4 months.

  • Mais

    yes, i worded my comment badly, i knew you didnt mean better in terms of quality (i also meant it in terms of situation — better decisions by the board etc)

  • Javi Lozoya

    Sinan, I never mentioned Robben but yes, he is very weak and injury prone and a troublemaker at times and is worth about 28M according to transfermarkt, although I honestly don’t know what’s your point.

  • JohnGreece

    I think that Atletico’s board shoud be more prudent with the money they spend,because after all it mosty comes from the fans.Buying players just to impress,is not a good policy i think.Obviously Falcao,Turan,Juanfran are good players but they are not worth that much..

  • Urban

    Can someone clarify one thing to me – is the surgery related to his issue that kept Silvio unable to play 2 whole games in a row at the beggining of the season?

    I ask because there was such injury which the managmenet refused to operate and solve for good because we had no cover for that position, and is it that now with Jaunfran in form they made the decision?

    The problem is that from what I recall it was a groin problem, and now we are talking about a knee surgery.

  • I think Arda and Juafran are not to expensive in my opinion, they ar great players and doin well. For Falcao maybe he is to expensive but we can make profit when we want to ofload him next season ,16goals in la liga in ur first season is not easy.

  • leika
  • starvs

    Our central defense will be very strong and deep with Dominguez, Godin, Miranda, and Botia (don’t know too much about him but heard/assume he is pretty good). Wouldn’t have any room for Perea at that rate though, so either he goes or Godin gets sold (to Chelsea finally?) probably. Also Pulido still exists…

  • Mais

    we would be smarter to get a cm on a permanent deal or someone else up front if costa is still a no-go

    i think selling anyone this summer is a bad idea, unless by some miracle we can get money for merida or someone else (is there anyone else) who never sees any game time

  • Heißenberg

    I don’t believe that this thing about Botia is true, this site where the news is coming from doesn’t seem very reliable to me.

    And honestly, I hope that it isn’t (true). We have excellent centerbacks and plus Pulido who is doing very well on loan. We should better try and get some decent right back.

  • Edletico

    I read somewhere that Atletico average around 14 signings a season. Botia being one of them would be good buisiness IMO.

  • Martin Rosenow

    I’d be happy with Botía.


    While the source is a dubious one, it is based on a report by Dani Hidalgo in AS.

    I don’t think there’s a journalist I trust more in Spain than Hidalgo.

  • Javi Lozoya

    The possible arrival of Botia isn’t new but that depends whether Barcelona buys him back or not. Rumor says Barca wants to have Botia back due to the fact Puyol is aging. That sort of makes sense as Pep might try to do the same with Botia like he did with Pique. But this and other things are gonna be solved during the summer.

  • Scott Lind
  • Mais

    loves it

  • Los Colchoneros

    Guys, guys. Why are people hating on Perea so much? He may be a so-and-so player, but you don’t get any more loyal then him. As he says so himself; he does a lot of right and a lot of wrong, but the wrong gets more notice than the wrong. He’s the traditional Colchonero scapegoat and this hating even reached the degree when our rivals cheer whenever he received the ball. First and foremost, I have more respect for Perea than for any other player currently on the squad. A footballer on average has a maximum of ten professional years at their peak; Perea has given us eight of his ten. I have the utmost respect for both him and Antonio Lopez. They are red-and-white through and through. I do not support a team because they win (or even because I want them to win). I support them for who they are. I felt nostalgic when Simao said that he won’t celebrate; though I thought that there’s scant anyone available on the squad from his time. They’re all new to him except for Dominguez and Joel from the 2nd team. Sure, Falcao, Arda, Diego, Salvio, Juanfran are all here now; but it has really been a year of upheaval for the team. We will also cross the city to the North in the new Olympic stadium; the Calderon will be torn down. Gone are the working class fans who love the team BECAUSE they are the underdogs, BECAUSE they are serial underachievers, and mostly BECAUSE they are not fake and the real deal. I always am critical of Real fans because I say that their not fanatical about the team or its values; they’re on a high for winning and for being the darling. Luis Amaranto Perea and Antonio Lopez are the real Atletico, they are not our great hope as was El Nino or Aguero or even Falcao. They are the real red-and-white. I admire Simeone for that – whenever I play Antonio Lopez and Perea in FM I don’t do so well; but I can’t tear myself away from not playing these easily forgotten whispers in the night. I admire Simeone for being able to strike the right mix of honoring the Atleti tradition – for he is apart of it – and for playing a truly competitive team making do with what’s available. I liked the Reyes come back story, I like the new Juanfran come back story, and I wish Perea will score for Atletico.
    Players I respect: Nino, Simao, Maxi Rodriguez, Lopez, Ujfalusi, Perea, Tiago, Aguero, Forlan, Reyes, and Juanfran.

    Players I don’t like: I have never disliked any player who has every played for Atletico.

  • Los Colchoneros

    Also, let’s keep things in context. There are 1,260 professional football players in the world who can claim they “made it”; Perea is one of them. The 33-year-old has managed to prosper out of a (probably) stressed childhood and find his calling and employment in football. We may have it made better than he did at the time; for we own computers, surf the net, and can afford the luxury of time to enjoy simply watching a favored football team play. When people get older priorities start to shift around, and fashion’s change; I doubt I’d be able to afford giving away two hours of my week simply doing nothing but watching Atleti on TV when I have a family and job to worry about. Atleti (or football in general) may give me a false sense of belonging, but it realistically doesn’t do much for me. When we won the Europa League, I woke up the next day happy; hungry for our next triumph. I grazed the message boards endlessly; reading stat upon stat. Analyzing the Fulham moments up to the details. I even fondly recall Reyes’ game sealing cross against Liverpool; the one he did with the outside of his holy left foot to Forlan. I remember all that, but; has my life truly improved? Has my work load decreased? Did I receive a raise? Did my family all come to congratulate me (for something I didn’t do)? All I did was scavenge the net for more false reality believers like me and puff my chest up for something I didn’t do; heck I could be fat and slobbery with varicose veins and I’d still feel like it was my foot that proved the difference. I just set myself up for more endless boasting. For every moment’s triumph I will live up ten times more respite whenever we fail, and fail we will. Because their can only be one winner. So what do I do now? I take it easy. It’s just a game. I watch more whenever we’re winning, and I don’t take the hits so badly anymore – because I think to myself it’s just a game. I’m shamelessly less enamored with the team, yet loyally still supporting the way we do with a wife whereby the fire has long been put off and we do not endeavor for anything else because it is not what we know. I guess what I intended to say from the start is, for these guys it’s the real deal. They get paid to be out there. Many have forsaken an education and won’t be able to tell you jack about the state of the economy in order to pursue a professional career in football. It is all they know, and the sad part is – even for the one’s who have made it – they’ve paid a very high price playing away those years with their futures. I will be still working long after Perea, Aguero, and Messi have retired. People will lurch on to the next new thing, like with Salvio, Koke, and now this Botia guy. They will forget their Ninos, Agueros, Forlans, Maxis, Simaos, and the rest of them. I dislike having to update my love targets every now and then. So I love the shirt, and if their not doing too well; well my life doesn’t change much either way. But give them a break, your life has probably more potential than a footballers and you don’t even know it.

  • Javi Lozoya

    I love Perea (as a player) but haterz gonna hate. He is an Atleti leyend whether people like it or not. Grande Luis Amaranto Perea!!!.

  • URGENT! I’ve just read that Atléti are willing to pay 15 mil. for Serbian left back Kolarov!! Any opinions? Is this correct?

  • Daneatlmad

    I hope not. We already got felipe and antonio lopez on the left back position. And then theres domiguez as backup, plus if im not mistaken, then silvio can play both backs?

  • leika

    I read about it too and I think that we don’t need him unless Filipe leaves. Both of them are too good to be bench players. But what if kolarov will play as a left midfielder and Arda will still leave to Anzhi?? Hope not.

  • ali_

    Stefan, did u read it here?

    “According to the Serbian medias, __Barcelona___ are ready to offer 15 million euros to Manchester City to obtain 26 year old left back Aleksandar Kolarov.” is one of the most pathetic sites ever. dont trust them.

  • Ringo

    Filipe is way too awesome <3

    So, no Kolarov, please. Not even a new back up is needed: Silvio and Dominguez are already there. Pulido and Perea are extra back up for the central roles, if both stay and perhaps there's the Botia deal.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Kolarov is a great player, one the best left backs in the world but 15M is too much for him and I think it’s a fake rumor. I would prefer Christian Fuchs ahead of him, Luciano Monzón, Luis Ibáñez, sign a Spanish player or give a cantero a chance at the left back. Besides I don’t think City is gonna let him go that easily.

  • DJ_ZA

    Couldn’t resist posting this QSF clip.
    I’ve a feeling there are a few Colchoneros out there thinking ‘Damn… I wish I could’ve done that.’

    PS. I think it was Forlan who viewed this 24000 times. LOL 🙂

  • Mais

    That’s the rudest thing to do in arab only makes the offender look bad

  • @ali_
    no I read it at
    its the Serbian official radio-television web site, under their sports section.

  • DJ_ZA

    @Mais – well he got a 17 match ban, although Maradona claims QSF provoked the goalkeeper.

  • palc

    Kolarov you say? That will cause major confusion. Because he and Gabi are identical twins.

  • Mais

    maradona shud give it a rest…unless qsf knocked up his little sister and tweeted about it, theres no provocation that is justified for that