The red and white aftermath: Match Day 7

Atlético close in on Barcelona with another last-minute winner at the Calderón

atletico madrid forwards falcao and adrian celebrate goal against malaga

Falcao and Adrián celebrate goal against Málaga

The Vicente Calderón witnessed yet another last-gasp triumph following Thursday night’s Cebollazo heard ’round the world.

But Atlético’s 2-1 victory over Málaga on Sunday evening, which extended their unbeaten streak to 19 games, was of far greater significance.

With a goal pushed in by the will of the 50,000 Indios in attendance at the Rojiblanco stronghold, as one Colchonero so eloquently put it, the win was Atleti’s ninth straight in official competition, a feat they had never achieved in their over 100 year history.

Falcao, Arda, Juanfran and company are quickly re-writing the history books of our storied club, with Diego ‘El Cholo’ Simeone authoring yet another chapter in his own tales of glory at Atleti, this time as a coach.

While international breaks are always a downer, at least this next round of FIFA competition will draw out our time way up in the clouds, from whence we look down upon the Málagas, Sevillas, Valencias and Real Madrids of the league.

Atleti’s adventures in La Liga in years past have been highly erratic. Like other Spanish sides, the club has often found themselves uninspired and feeling stranded in no-man’s land given the consistent dominance of the ‘big two’ and the virtual impossibility of finishing in first place.

On the other hand, los Colchoneros have shined in European competition. It’s easier to get motivated for Europa League as the tournament’s trophy is relatively low hanging fruit compared to the domestic title. Likewise goes for our pair of Super Cups.

Now though, equal with Barcelona at the top of the table with 19 points and 5 points clear of third place holders Málaga, our men have reason to stay galvanised week-after-week in Primera División action.

But can they keep up the pace for another 31 rounds?

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone thrilled but, unsurprisingly, remains grounded

Diego Simeone’s passionate goal celebrations on the sidelines and his interactions with the masses at the Calderón do nothing more than seduce a fan base already eating out of the palm of his manly hand.

The people feel they can identify with the legend-turned-manager-turned legend again.

“We played a complete game,” Simeone said in the post-game press conference.

“We were superior in the middle of the field. The strength of the group is our most positive point.”

He continued: “These repeated [last-minute victories] are of significant importance.”

As always, Cholo played down our incredible points haul.

“Numbers are all statistics,” he said.

“Our reality is the match against Real [Sociedad]. It’s an important day for Atlético, to be in such a privileged position after so many years, but we have to continue taking it game-by-game.”

Of the upcoming two-week hiatus from club competition, the former Argentina international said:

“It comes at a good time to work well with those that are staying. We will work hard, intensely. We’ll take advantage of these days by working with those who are staying.”

Falcao scores in sixth straight appearance

Having missed out on a chance to add to his goal tally last weekend–staying behind in Madrid as his team-mates took on Espanyol while he recovered from a groin strain, Radamel Falcao was clearly driven to find the back of the net against Pellegrini’s men, breaking the deadlock after only six minutes had elapsed.

The Colombian international’s strike was his 11th overall of the present season in red and white (8 league goals and a hat-trick in the Super Cup) and he has now found himself on the score sheet in his last 6 appearances (8 appearances if international duty with Colombia is counted for a grand total of 13 goals).

Málaga central defender Weligton, who was credited with the match-winning own goal, admitted to Radio COPE immediately after the clash that he pushed the ball into his own net, though he also whined of a shove by Falcao. Let’s not judge the Brazilian. You’d be a whiner too if your parents botched the spelling of your first name.

“It has been a deserved victory because of the team’s attitude,” ‘El Tigre’ told Canal Plus after the game.

“It’s true that there are moments in which we don’t play with clarity but we always have the drive and we achieved the triumph in the end.”

The 26-year-old phenom continued: “There’s no reason to let our arms down. Upon our return from national team matches we will prepare for our next game, which will be the most important one.”

While referee Pérez Lasa, in his official act, recorded Weligton as the own goal scorer, reporters for Marca, the Spanish newspaper that awards the annual Pichichi prize for Primera’s top scorer, have reportedly credited Falcao with two goals on Sunday. This would give our lethal striker sole possession of the lead for the award with nine goals.

Officially, however, he is tied with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo with eight goals.

Emre handed first league start

Simeone surprised the vast majority of the Rojiblanco faithful by handing Turkey international Emre his first league start at the club. Rumours of the largely unexpected decision had surfaced in the Spanish press Saturday night and were confirmed hours before kick-off.

El Cholo recently indicated he was uncomfortable with not having found some playing time for the veteran midfielder–the gaffer apparently impressed with the 32-year-old’s performances in training of late.

Emre didn’t take long to repay Simeone, making his coach look like a genius by assisting Falcao’s opening goal in the very early goings. The former Inter man continued to provide service-after-service throughout the first half, successfully completing three crosses while participating in our characteristic ‘midfield shuffle’ together with Adrián and countryman Arda.

“It has been a complicated match but I’m very happy because the whole team has played well,” said the Turkey national team captain afterwards.

“We have won with a goal at the last minute. I’m very happy I was able to help my team and my team-mates. I thank ‘Cholo’ for the minutes. Although I want to play always, we are a good team. I have great team-mates and the most important thing is that Atleti continue winning.”

He continued, giving a quick assessment of his time at Atlético so far:

“I’m very happy because we are like a family. We have a very good team and I have a lot of great team-mates here. The important thing is that the team wins, not how much I play. The feeling of playing in the Calderón is great. It was my second time and I feel very good. I’d like to thank Cholo and my team-mates.”

Filipe, practically a winger against Málaga

Left-back Filipe Luís spent more time in the opposition’s half than in our own and looked very dangerous again from his advanced position.

The Brazilian, who won three corners and participated in the play leading up to our first goal, told reporters it “was a very tough game in which there were no favourites”.

“Málaga are very strong opponents that also had chances to win but I think we were superior in every aspect,” Filipe added.

“The team has fought and we put our all into every challenge and that was noticeable in the goal at the end of the game.”

The former Deportivo man continued: “The victory gives us a lot of encouragement to keep fighting, to keep working hard and to continue with this mentality of taking one game at a time.”

Other notes:

  • Atlético are the only remaining undefeated Spanish club in the 2012/13 season (Barcelona lost to Real Madrid in the Supercopa de España second leg).
  • This is the third time Atleti have started a league campaign with 6 wins, 1 draw and no losses, previously occurring in 1951/52 and 1995/96. (@pedritonumeros)
  • Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was in attendance at the Vicente Calderón on Sunday and claimed he was in Madrid to catch a glimpse of Emre and Roque Santa Cruz, the latter on loan with los Boquerones from City. He was obviously too scared to mention any interest in the world’s hottest striker while inside the tiger’s den.

  • Paulo

    Time to celebrate, fellow rojiblancos! …for the next 2 weeks! We have suffered major injustice and still we stand just 2 goals behind Barca. We have the momentum!

    My neck is still aching from the tension of the last minutes and what a relief to get a late goal, again.
    Been waiting for a while now that Emre steps up. Was nice to see him in the starting IX.
    In my opinion, it wasn’t beautiful football. Very energetic, though. And the fucking referee+linesmen… The win was deserved, no doubt!
    I’m not too fond of the late trend of excessive crossing and long balls.
    You can see that we had (/have) much better control of the game when keeping it on the ground and making them little one-touch triangles to create space.
    I think Falcao likes that kind of play much more, too. It’s crazy to just launch a cross between two defenders and hope he can convert it somehow… There has to be a clear chance. Málaga played aggressive and there were lots of pressure, but lots of balls and attacks were just wasted yesterday.
    Hope we switch back to a more cool-headed, tiki-taka -oriented approach in bringing the ball up like we had earlier.

  • Veiko

    Cant wait games against Barca and Real. Im sure, we produce something good in these fixtures too.
    Tat would shut up stupid media who keeps talking about points gap between Barca and real. Who the fuck gives about real ? Atleti is on the same points with Barca!

    ATLETI TE AMO !!!!

  • Arjit

    Great, great result. We’re as usual amazing at home. I really hope we can play well away against sociedad. It would be a shame if we drop points against lowly opponents away from home after all this.

  • Shlomgar

    Just think about what would have happened if Kader was starting in a 4-4-2 formation against Levante on that first week…
    I guess the excessive crossing thing was because the person in charge of Falcao was Monreal, and he isn’t known for his head game. Anyhow, we won! Yeay! And Real’s draw means we are now 8 points away of the other Madrid side. Can’t wait for Darby day…

  • Lubo

    I think the man of the match was Cholo. Although the Calderón was perfect as always (damn I simply have to experience it), he pushed the crowd to their limits forcing the players to work their asses off. And that’s extraordinary. Calderón will be a hell’s gate when facing Barcelona and Real at home.

  • Arjit

    I know what you mean Lubo, it’s become one of my life’s goals to watch a live Atletico Madrid game in person. I reside in Canada watching most Atletico games through online streams 🙁

  • Jorge

    Then do it! I’m going in April to Sevilla and Madrid (for the derby). I’m doing it because my girlfriend and I are sick of seeing this team finally achieve success and missing out on the parties at Neptuno. You always regret more what you didn’t do than what you did.

  • JimboWithTheDancingShoes

    I’m going this november for Atleti – Getafe. Gonna be great!

  • Arjit

    I’m fighting student debts right now. Soon I’ll be free and then maybe I’ll enjoy some live Atleti :). You guys enjoy your trip and bring some pictures back!

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  • Lubo

    @Jorge: How do you plan to get the tickets for El Derbi? I’m actually also seriously thinking to visit this match, but because I’m 3000km from Madrid, it might be a little problem for me to buy the tickets.

  • Dircil

    I learned from some sport news that Atletico will sell Falcao at €60 million. I thought that the price should be at least 70 million. How come Atletico boards decide to let him go at a very unacceptable price?????

  • Dircil
  • k14

    Most of it is trying to convince us (the fans) that the board has done wonders if they don’t sell Falcao next year.
    And 60 million is actually the buyout clause on Falcao’s contract.

  • Javi

    Falcao is gone to a bigger team for sure, all we can do here is extend his contract and raise his buy out clause like we did with kun to get as much as posible for other players and to pay our tax Bill

  • JimboWithTheDancingShoes
  • Arjit

    The thing is, since Diego Simeone came in, Atletico has been amazing. I was looking at his stats, 41 gamesn 28 wins, 6 losses, 8 draws. Those aren’t the kinds of number we had in previous years. We’re genuinely becoming a strong team and I think if make a title push this year, Falcao will stay. Simeone got us more than twice as many points as Manzano did last year. He only coached half the year yet we missed Champions League by 1 point. I really do think we can push this year. We have a bigger n well rounded squad too, and he’s found a way to utilize our 7 or 8 CMs that we have in the first team. I know it’s Atletico and we always fail at the very last moment, but Simeone really makes magic happen.