Atlético never recovered from their atrocious start against Levante.
Faster than it takes Godín and Miranda to run five yards, Atleti were already at a disadvantage.
We immediately knew what was in store for us after one minute of action on Sunday and, though it really came as no surprise, Koné’s goal in the 10th minute still felt like another sock in the stomach, leaving the red and white faithful dazed and confused and feeling short of breath.
As hard as it is to believe, our start at the Ciutat de València wasn’t even our worst of the season. When we visited Espanyol back in December we crumbled even more quickly, going down 2-0 after only seven minutes. At least in that match we showed some signs of life, pulling back two goals through Falcao and Arda–though we ended up losing 4-2.
But in this clash we failed to score for the 12th time in the current La Liga campaign, a statistic that normally isn’t associated with a team contending for a Champions League berth.
In the same way that it was just like Atleti to return to Spain from their European glory only to humiliate themselves in domestic competition, it would be just like Atleti to follow up on this disastrous performance with an epic one in Wednesdays’s derby.
Unfortunately, it would also be just like Atleti to lose to their bitter rivals, who they have been unable to defeat in their last 22 tries.
We have a couple of factors in our favour coming into this huge midweek encounter though.
Firstly, our crosstown foes will certainly be feeling the pressure after falling short at the Bernabéu this weekend, tying 0-0 against visitors Valencia. The Merengues’ rare slip up left Barcelona trailing them by four points, with the Blaugrana closing up what once was a 10-point gap in the Primera División title-race.
Secondly, we’ll be playing on home ground, where we have largely dominated this year (9W, 4D, 2L). You can bet on a lively atmosphere at the Vicente Calderón, which will be throbbing and packed to the rafters with supporters who will have already forgiven Simeone’s men for their latest stumble.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the Cholo factor. Could it be that Simeone was saving up his magic Cholo-dust on Easter to use his entire collection of it on Real Madrid in order to further cement his legendary status in the Rojiblanco record books?
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone shoulders the blame for the loss
“The players have not disappointed me in any way, totally to the contrary,” Simeone said in the post-game press conference.
“I hold myself responsible for the first 10 minutes because surely I didn’t hit the right key for them to respond well. Later, the team improved and the second half was good for playing in the opponents’ territory.”
‘El Cholo’ reiterated his complaints with regard to the noon-scheduling of the match in spite of the squad having played in Germany as recently as Thursday.
“There are no excuses, but there are realities,” he said.
“The only thing we can do now is focus on the next encounter.”
The Argentine tactician has not ruled out the possibility of qualifying for Champions League play for next season.
“We hope to still have a chance and fight for the possibility the last five match days.”
Asked why the club’s leading scorer Radamel Falcao did not appear in the fold, Simeone responded that ‘El Tigre’ “had a cold”.
“We spoke to him [Saturday], because he didn’t train,” he said.
“We asked him today. He wasn’t at 100 per cent and we mutually agreed to use him towards the end if necessary and play with Salvio, who was more fresh.
“But the first 10 minutes were going to be the same with or without Falcao,” Cholo concluded.
Filipe has hopes of putting an end to Real Madrid’s over-a-decade-long unbeaten streak against us
Left back Filipe Luís, a former Real Madrid-reserve squad player, assures it will be very difficult to end the 13-year ‘white-spell’ our neighbours have cast upon us.
“It wasn’t possible to take points [today] and now all we can do is focus on the next match, the derby against Real Madrid,” he said.
“We have to respect them because they are the leaders, they lead us by more than 30 points, they are one of the best Real Madrid sides in history, but we are playing before our supporters and will try to get the victory.
“It will be very difficult, but we are not in lack of hope. It’s clear that we all dream of ending this long stretch of so many years of not beating Madrid.”
No injuries were reported after this game.
Though Falcao did not train with the rest of his team-mates following the club’s return from Germany, we know a cold is not going to keep our killer feline out of his first Madrid Derby.
- Eduardo Salvio (5th yellow), Mario Suárez (10th yellow) and Miranda (red card) will all be unavailable against Real Madrid through suspension.
- José Mourinho’s men, with 100 goals, have scored 58 more times than us in La Liga this year. Fifty. Eight. More. Times.