The red and white aftermath: Week 38

Atlético come painfully close to Champions League berth but fall just two points short


Falcao serves as Villarreal's executioner once again

Though Atlético finished the season strongly, going unbeaten in their final nine games in all competitions including Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Villarreal and Thursday’s Europa League title-hoisting triumph over Athletic Bilbao, the mood in Rojiblanco land was tepid at best, as most of us felt we should have been celebrating our return to the Champions League.

Instead, the outcome at the Madrigal was one of tragedy. We had to witness the suffering of a fanbase in tears, incredulous as to how, in a matter of minutes, they went from salvation to damnation in the form of relegation to the Segunda División because of our game-winning goal.

Meanwhile, those numb to the agony of the Yellow Submarine community were beginning to brace for what will possibly, if not most likely, be another summer of departing Colchonero idols.

It is commonly understood in the Spanish media that Atleti would only have looked to retain their stars, particularly Falcao and Diego, if a Champions League berth had been secured.

A fifth place finish means the future is up in the air and subject to the whims of a super agent and the incompetence of a pair of directors.

For now, the squad will head to Colombia for a series of friendlies in the cities of Bogota (May 16th), Cali (May 19th) and Huila (May 22nd), before closing the book on this trademark Atleti season.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone unable to assure Falcao and Diego will return
In his first five months at the helm of the club he once won two titles with as a player, Diego Simeone finished with a record of 19 wins, 7 draws and 5 losses in all competitions, with one of those victories being our Europa League trophy-lifting triumph.

Despite the club’s – for the most part – success under ‘El Cholo’, the Argentine tactician was somewhat disappointed at missing out on a chance of going head-to-head with Europe’s finest next season.

“It’s not a comfortable situation, on the contrary, it’s uncomfortable,” an emotional Simeone said after the game at the Madrigal.

“We were left out of the Champions League and Villarreal were relegated, but Sporting only lost 1-0 and we had to give it a shot.

“We had hope of qualifying for Champions, though in the end, we weren’t able to achieve it. The players cannot be reproached at all because we went for everything. Sporting couldn’t tie their game and we didn’t finish in fourth place.”

When asked if Diego and Falcao will return despite the squad not having qualified for Champions League, Simeone’s response did not allay any of the Rojiblanco faithful’s fears.

“The match just ended and it’s not the time to talk about this, but I can’t guarantee [they’ll stay],” he said.

“We needed to make it into Champions League, we picked up a huge amount of points, a lot, but it wasn’t possible. We finished just outside the door.”

He continued: “What we have to keep making sure of is that Atlético remain a competitive team, just as they have been in these last games.”

Falcao, Villarreal’s bête noire
Radamel Falcao’s whopping 36th goal of his inaugural and hopefully first of many campaigns at the banks of the Manzanares River will have a longer life span in the nightmares of the Submarino faithful than in the dreams of Atleti fans, as the strike ended Villarreal’s 12-year run in the Primera División.

With his eighth career goal against his favourite prey, ‘El Tigre’ equalled former Atleti forward Manolo’s single-season mark of 36 goals from the 1991/92 season.

Remarkably, only three other Atlético players in history have scored more goals in one year: Elícegui, who scored 48 in 1934/35; Pruden, who scored 47 in 1940/41; and Baltazar, who scored 42 in 1988/89.

The Colombian finished 2011/12 with 24 league goals, third in the category behind Lionel Messi (50) and Cristiano Ronaldo (46).

In a tribute to his mom and having scored off a header on the day celebrated as Mother’s Day in his native country of Colombia, Falcao told the following story through his Twitter account:

“Dedicated to my mom on her day. I was young and we lived in Santa Marta, my mother and I would go to the beach, always with a ball. Because the ball did not roll well on the sand, my mom would throw the ball up in the air and I would have to jump up and head it back to her hands.

“All afternoon long, the ball would go up and I would send it back to her with my head; the sun would set and it would become nighttime until their was no longer any light left to keep on playing! I think it was then that I began to perfect my headers! A big hug to her and to all mothers today!”

Antonio López proud of squad’s performance in his final season at the club
Atleti captain and 10-year veteran Antonio López suited up in red and white for the last time in his career, though he didn’t get any playing time on Sunday.

“It’s been a shame that we couldn’t qualify for Champions,” López said.

“We’ve had many chances to do so, but it wasn’t possible. Nonetheless, we leave with our heads held very high this season. We’ve won a title, we’ve made it into European play, and we’ve been fighting until the last moment to qualify for the Champions League.”

The 30-year-old lauded the work of his last boss at Atleti, saying of Simeone: “The team wasn’t doing very well before he arrived, but we turned things around at the end of the season and we’ve fulfilled our goals.”

Villarreal’s Vice President calls Godín a “shameless scoundrel” after the game
Television cameras caught an ugly exchange between Villarreal Vice President José Manuel Llaneza and Atlético defender Diego Godín in the Madrigal tunnel 45 minutes after the final whistle had blown.

Llaneza was seen yelling at Godín, calling him a “shameless scoundrel”, Spanish paper El País reports.

“In his last match with us, he went out and got drunk the night before,” Llaneza explained later.

“That’s why we parted ways with him. Today, he started arguing with our players. I asked him if he was satisfied and he insulted me and I responded.

“If it weren’t for our club, he’d still be in Montevideo.”

Other notes:

  • Thibaut Courtois, whose second-year loan deal at Atleti is said to be pretty much all wrapped up, kept his 24th clean sheet this year in all competitions and 15th in La Liga. Only Barcelona’s Víctor Valdés finished with more clean sheets in the domestic competition, with 17.
  • The corner kick sent in by Diego in the 88th minute that led to Falcao’s match-winning goal was the Brazilian’s 10th assist of the year, and third in league play.
  • Atleti leaders (La Liga): Most goals: Falcao (24). Most assists: Juanfran (5). Most cards: Gabi (14 yellows, 1 red). Most appearances: Courtois (37). (Info Atleti)

Share your end of the season thoughts and your expectations for the summer with us in the comment section.

  • Urban

    In sporting terms it was a v. good season, we won the EL cup, we almost got to the champions league.

    I knew we will rue our missed chances (most notable 3-2 loss to Getafe, 0-0 with Racing, 1-1 with Sociedad). But this is football and this is Atleti.

    The problem is our economic situation. I guess everyone speculated since I guess there is no reliable information about our coffers. In any case, if even Gil says we will have to let our key players go it has to be really bad.

    I hope that if Caminero steps up he might be able to cash on some of our not so much needed assets, like DC22, RG, Asenjo, Micael, and in worse case scenario Salvio. Our payroll will be reduced by departures of Perea, Lopez, prolly Tiago and Assu.

    Manquillo, Pedro and Saul, together with Pulido and Joel could supplement the first team.

  • Nexus

    We really did well….though we couldnt qualify for the Champs League. Cho Cho has done an incredible Job, if only Manzano had been sacked a bit earlier. Simeone brought a lot of belief into Atleti….now we must pray Falcao n Diego stay n we bring in Good replacements for those wu wd leave. I believe next season we wd qualify for the Champs league.

  • AaX

    This is the time for gratefulness, hope and patience. PEACE

  • Urban
  • Javi Lozoya

    “19 wins, 7 draws and 5 losses in all competitions”. That’s a great record for Simeone considering he arrived at a bad moment and with short time. That’s very outstanding as well considering we have a short squad. We played almost all matches with most starting players and yet we defeated Bilbao.
    Cholo was one of the main factors we won the Europa League. Just hope the board let’s him build the team his own way, but since we’re not keeping Diego and Falcao might leave as well, the board is failing Simeone and the fans.
    Still, Grande Cholo!, thank you Mr. Simeone for helping the team winning another international title. You deserve recognition.
    Ole, Ole, Ole, Cholo Simeone!.Ole, Ole, Ole, Cholo Simeone!.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Supposedly Olivier Giroud from Montpellier is linked to us. He is Ligue 1 goalscorer. He is quite a good player. But it’s weird since Bayern is close to sign him. Anyways.
    Here’s a video of him:

  • Nipe96

    News surface about a deal between Chelsea and Atletico, Torres and 15M Euros for Falcao! El Nino might be coming home!

  • falcao

    Olivier Giroud,Burak Yilmaz,Etiene Capoue,Alvaro Vasquez,Frank Tabanou,Emre Belezoglu,Chori Castro,Alberto Botia,Iborra,Xavi Torres,Ruffier Sefano,Xerdan Shaqiri,Franco Vazquez,Michu,Lass,Casado,Sosa,Clerc,Fanni,Borja Valero……all this players have been linked with Atletico we will see what is going to happen in summer

  • falcao

    Zoran Tosic,Aleksandar Kolarov,Msakni(from tunnis)…..

  • Javi Lozoya

    Shaqiri signed for Bayern since January…

  • Javi Lozoya

    I like Fernando Torres. He is a legend for Atleti and will always be but swapping Falcao for him along with only 15M is just insane. Falcao is the world best center forward as of today. He is worth 60M if we play with today’s market value. Fernando Torres current value is 15M, 20 at the most.
    Atleti is gonna lose a lot if Falcao leaves and swap him for Torres. Chelsea should at least give us 30M and Torres and Courtois or nothing.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Also, one thing to consider about Falcao’s future is that Atleti doesn’t own his transfer rights. Falcao rights are owned by a third party company related to Mendes.
    So wherever Falcao goes that will be decided by Mendes.
    I don’t like that dude Mendes. He should be banned from football.

  • Metro

    Javi, we don’t know that for sure.

    Some claim that, as you said, Falcao is owned by a third party company, but there are also those claiming that Falcao is 100% ours. Even Gil confirmed that (yes, I know we shouldn’t trust his words).

  • Mais

    Any progress (I think it was Javi, not Javi L) on looking into the legal situation regarding ownership? All this bull about the owners is gna have serious consequences on my health

  • Dircil

    I wanna a billionaire so fucking bad, buy a lot of things i’ve never had. The first thing that I will buy is 100% share of Atletico Madrid :))

  • haha bruno mars said that

  • Javi Lozoya

    Falcao rights are owned by a third party company. That’s why he might not stay with Atleti.

  • Javi Lozoya

    The team has arrived at Colombia to play against Millonarios. The whole squad traveled including Joel, Pulido and Pedro Martin. I’m excited for them. I hope they perform good even if it’s a friendly so they convince Cholo to stay for next season. I’m so excited about Pedro as well. Hope he performs so that he earns a spot for next season as a third striker if Diego Costa doesn’t get his Spanish passport.

  • Javi Lozoya
  • Metro

    Javi L, show me some documents about Falcao’s rights. There’s a strong possibility, yes, that he is owned by third party company, but you cannot be 100% in that. As I said earlier, there are different stories told (Gil Marin saying he is 100% ours f.e) and since you aren’t neither Falcao, his agent or some important employee at Atlético, you can’t say for sure that your information is 100% correct.

  • Gert

    Anyone else noticed the Huawei sponsorship at the arrival in Colombia?
    I believe they might be our sponsors for the upcoming season.

  • shay

    I think I lost about 20 years of my life sence becoming atleti-fan.. and now during the off-season, it’s even worse…

    a little video from the past 🙂

  • ali_

    Gert: its very likely that they will be our new shirtsponsor next season. we would get 6 million euros a year.

  • DJ_ZA

    Well done to Adrian, Juanfran & Dominguez who have been selected for Spanish squad to face Serbia & South Korea!!!

  • Yon

    Apparently we haven’t even payed Porto over 20% of Falcao’s transfer fee so who knows what to believe! Probably is true and that Mendes c*%t is away with it all!