As if it wasn’t punishment enough to have to watch an insipid Atlético for 90 minutes only for them to epically collapse and allow their opponents to score an outright stupid goal in the dying minutes of the match, thereby bungling the clearest path to Champions League qualification for next season, the Rojiblanco faithful also had to experience how the rest of the evening of Spanish football unfolded: exactly how they had hoped prior to the start of proceedings against Real Sociedad at the Vicente Calderón on Wednesday.
Levante loss? Check. Málaga loss? Check. If you can take a peek at the Primera División standings right now and ponder on what could have been without breaking into a whimper, you’re a stronger man, or woman, than us here at AtléticoFans.
Oh, and just to pour some salt in the wound, our little neighbours ended the night proclaiming themselves league champions for the 32nd time in their history.
What was shaping up to be a colossal, almost semi-final of its own clash versus Málaga on Saturday, has now lost most, if not all, its lustre.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone insists his men “will keep on fighting” for a Champions League spot
“We didn’t have a lot of goal scoring chances,” Atleti coach Diego Simeone said after the draw.
“The players are making a tremendous effort and are incredibly committed. Sometimes we can play better or worse. We kept working and in the second half we found the goal. We had it all wrapped up and in the last play they scored the equaliser.”
‘El Cholo’ told reporters that he found “an atmosphere of pain” in the locker room, because the players know “we’ve dropped four important points,” referring to the 2-2 tie in Seville against Betis last weekend in addition to this midweek draw.
The Argentine tactician insisted that “as long as there’s a possibility, we’re going to keep on fighting [for a Champions League spot]”.
Thank you Gabi, %$!@ you Gabi
As a Scottish Colchonero recently said, “It’s either sugar or shite with Atleti.” Our veteran canterano Gabi was a bit of both himself on Wednesday.
The Rojiblanco midfielder, who scored his third goal of the season with a cracking long-distance strike on our only shot on target of the evening, saw two yellows in less than five minutes and was given his marching orders, leaving his team-mates to protect a very slim lead with only 10 men.
It’s very hard to believe that the 28-year-old managed to bag 11 goals last season with Real Zaragoza.
With regard to the consequences of Gabi’s red card, Simeone said: “The dismissal adversely affected us because it prevented us from setting up the final minutes the way we would have wanted.”
Domínguez suffered the dropped points like a hardcore Atleti fan
Atleti’s homegrown vice-captain and central defender Álvaro Domínguez was visibly distraught after Carlos Vela’s shot hit the back of the net in stoppage time to erase our 1-0 lead.
The 22-year-old fell to his knees in agony and pressed his head against the Calderón grass, acutely aware of just how important the three points were, not only to our Champions League aspirations, but also to the hopes and dreams of the thousands of supporters in attendance and watching around the world. It was like the weight of the world had fallen on his shoulders.
“Not being able to sleep after matches kills me,” Domínguez wrote on Twitter later in the evening, clearly still beating himself up over the missed opportunity.
- Gabi’s red card means he faces an automatic one-match ban to be served in our upcoming game against Málaga.
- Koke was credited with the assist on Gabi’s goal. It was the Atleti youth product’s fourth assist of the year.
- Arda was not booked on Wednesday, so the Turk remains at nine yellow cards, one away from suspension.
- Atlético took their unbeaten streak to six games.
- Surprisingly, La Real bested Atleti in the Shots on Target department by a 5 to 1 margin.