The red and white aftermath: Match Day 8

A breathtaking free kick by Falcao saves the day against Real Sociedad

atletico striker radamel falcao celebrates free kick goal against real sociedad with teammates

'El Tigre' celebrates match-winner with team-mates


Yes, we’re still celebrating Falcao’s late stunner that helped Atlético to their third straight win in the dying minutes of the match and to the club’s best start ever in La Liga.

The Colombian’s free kick goal instantly wiped away any recollection of the previous 89 minutes of the proceedings at Anoeta, particularly a dreadful first half display, and sent Colchoneros throughout the world into a state of utter euphoria for the umpteenth time in recent weeks.

Barcelona’s 5-4 victory in A Coruña in spite of Pizzi’s best efforts — the Portuguese winger we reportedly agreed to shell out €13.5 million for put two past the Culés on Saturday — left us with no choice but to come out the victors over Real Sociedad in order to keep pace with the European giants and remain level in points atop the league standings.

The Txuri-urdin were not in any way intimidated by Atleti’s growing stature in Spain, and with a little more luck could have earned the three points themselves had things gone their way, especially in the first 45 minutes of play.

Atleti struggled mightily to get any sort of rhythm going before a motivated local side fighting to keep their perfect home record intact–and perhaps partially due to the stormy conditions in San Sebastián.

Arda’s tenacity and creativity in midfield were certainly missed by Diego Simeone’s men, but the introduction of Cristian ‘Cebolla’ Rodríguez with about 30 minutes to spare in replacement of a negligible Raúl García finally invigorated our attack.

The Uruguayan’s determination was hugely important once again, most notably when he trudged forward through a wedgie by Illarramendi that eventually resulted in the foul that set up our game-winning free kick.

The triumph was our record-breaking 10th on the trot and our record-tying 20th match in a row without a loss.

Los Rojiblancos have a very realistic shot at taking their win streak up to 12 matches and their unbeaten streak up to 22, with consecutive home clashes coming up against Académica de Coimbra (on Thursday) and Osasuna (on Sunday).

With 22 points in La Liga, a figure we didn’t reach until mid-January in the last term, we moved back into a first-place tie with Tito Vilanova’s men heading into Match Day 9.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone critical of poor first half, pleased with improvement after the break

“It has gone well for us in the final minutes [lately],” Simeone admitted to reporters following his squad’s latest thriller.

“The team went after the win. It was a very tough match, but that’s what we expected. We didn’t go into the game well. The first half the team wasn’t at the level where it has been in other encounters. La Real had intensity and aggression, without creating clear goal scoring chances, but they did dominate play and created difficulties with regard to our game plan.”

‘El Cholo”continued: “The second half was more evenly played, more of a back and forth. We looked for the victory and they had a counter-attack after a poorly resolved play by us. We had some chances through Falcao to convert.”

The Argentine tactician then gave an account of the moments leading up to ‘El Tigre’s’ match-winner.

“The goal came from a delicious free kick by Falcao,” he said.

“He desperately begged for the ball. He knew he had a chance and his hunger for a goal compelled him. He practices those in training in order to improve in that facet [of his game], and we saw the result of that.”

“’Cholo’ has changed all of our lives.” -Miranda, speaking to Spanish radio station Onda Cero after the match.

16 goals in last 10 appearances by Falcao

It must be strange for the ultra-religious Radamel Falcao to pray to himself.

In the beginning, the ‘Omnipresent One’ used his silky, coffee-brown locks to spectacularly save a very threatening shot on target by La Real.

Later, he separated the waters, created the sky and smashed home a divine free kick, giving Atleti dominion over the animals and the earth.

It was our ferocious feline’s first free kick goal as a professional in his first ever attempt of the kind, and the strike brought his goal total on the year to 12 in all competitions (9 in league play, 3 in the Super Cup).

Falcao finally relinquished his Pichichi lead to Lionel Messi though, as the Argentine now has 11 league goals following a hat-trick performance on Saturday, but our superstar is tied with Cristiano Ronaldo in second in the scoring chart.

The 26-year-old’s torrid form continues. He has now found the back of the net in each of his last 10 appearances with club and country, scoring 16 times in that span.

“Real Sociedad are very strong at home, no team had beaten them here,” the Rojiblanco idol said after the game.

“It was very hard. We didn’t have many options as it was a very closed game. They didn’t allow us to hold on to the ball when we’d take it.”

His holiness continued: “As an amateur I scored a lot of free kicks, but this was my first as a professional. I had a lot of confidence and thank God the ball went in.”

After thanking himself, Falcao revealed he had spoken to his close friend Gabi before stepping up for the shot.

“He gave me a lot of confidence and encouraged me to take it.”

Other notes:

  • Thibaut Courtois earned his third shutout of the season and 27th clean sheet in his time on-loan (sigh) at Atleti.
  • Atlético did not score a first half goal for the first time this season in La Liga.
  • Sílvio was left off the game-day squad and watched Sunday’s game from the stands. Meanwhile, Kader took the Portuguese fullback’s spot on the bench.

  • Pedro

    ATLETI ATLETI ATLETI………!!!!!!!!!! FALCAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jorge

    Cebolla keeps winning me over–in spite of arguably the worst nickname in all of sports.

  • Pedro

    Why is he called Cebolla??

  • Arjit

    Because he makes his opponents cry

  • Kabir

    he makes the defending opposition cry. it’s quite fitting.

  • Pedro

    hahaha thats so good!!!

  • Dircil

    I have heard that Atletico is gonna buy Chicharito to replace Falcao. Is that true? First the team was rumored to buy Pizzi and now Chicharito? What the hell Atletico’s boards are thinking?

  • Pedro

    Pizzi is done deal 13.5 million, Falcao will prob leave but I hope in the summer and not January. It is true Chicharito and Hunterlaar have been rumoured to replace Falcao (again in the summer we hope) Im sure the board would keep Falcao if they could maybe someone with better knowledge can explain how they work? perhaps money talks and they need it to balance the books?

  • Dircil

    I found no reason to buy Pizzi. He didn’t show much of his ability during the time he was on loan at Atletico. Other than that, his performance have been so bright recently, but in the future who knows if he will turn into another R.Garcia? If I were them (Atletico’s boards) I’d rather use the money that was supposed to spend on Pizzi to buy Diego. Wht do u guys think. I just say what I think, dont get so offended.

  • Javi

    Dircil, Pizzi is getting plenty of playing time at Depor and he is playing great-much better than he did with Atleti; look at the gol he scored against barca/victor valdez, this weekend. I think Atleti sees that with playing time he can develop into a player we can either sell or use and make some money with him, plus his salary is low. The problem with Diego, at least one of them, is that he was making 5M in salary per year and he was not willing to take less, so they passed on him.
    From what they are saying, at least Cerezo, they want to keep Falcao, but if a team pays the clause and he wants to go, then there is nothing left to talk about.
    I would at least extend his contract, raise his salary and his buyout clause so we get more money when he goes.

  • Pedro

    Do we know why his buyout clause is so low? I mean if hulks was £110 million why isnt Falcao set at that or more? raise it for sure but would he extend his deal?

  • Litti

    What do you guys think about rumors between Arsenal and Adrian? Its actually pretty interesting that are offering 18 million euros for him.

    I would sell him straight away for that price, even though we all know that he was “Robin” and Falcao was the Batman last year.
    But as I said, that would be great price for him considering he hasnt done anything too special this year…

  • Andres

    Hulks buyout clause was so high due to him extending his contract after he was being chased by many teams. He extended his contract at Porto.

  • Dircil

    @Javi: thanks for ur input. Regarding Diego, given the situation of Wolfsburg at the moment and his age, I believe that we can get him at a fair cheap price at the end of the season and maybe he will agree to reduce his wage to 3 million (^^!). If we r gonna lose a world class goal hunter like Falcao, we need a world class playmaker who can create as many chances as possible to compensate for that.

  • Dircil

    @Litti: If Falcao leave, we should not sell him as it’s kinda hard to find a high-quality striker like him in the market at a reasonable price. I would hold onto him and Diego Costa. Both are promising and they can adequately compensate for Falcao

  • Pedro

    I also heard that summer target Ricardo Quaresma is unhappy in Turkey, perhaps he could be of use if Adrian is sold? or as another body for the title challange, also we been linked with Mattias Silvestre of Inter he played for Diego at Catania.

  • Urban

    Adrian should go for 18 mln. For that kind of money we can have someone much better. Like griezmann who could come for halft that price, although we already have Arda and Cebolla for the left flank.

    Diego is still a good idea, he played great and he can be a bargain this season, considering his expiring contract, wolfsburgs situation, and his age. He could tutor Oli.

    And Falcao… oh, Falcao. Our idol will probably leave, he is too big fish for the Atletico pond. Of course it would be amazing if he renewed and increased the buyout clause, but I dont think Mendes will advise him to do so because he can already get a nice fee for him. I guess from his point of view it would be best to facilitate move to Chelsea, he has great contacts there.

    If we sold Falcao in the summer and got to CL we should have around 30-40 mln to spend in the summer.

    I would buy Diego and maybe Damiao or even Neymar. Someone exciting and with good sell-on value. Or maybe get Hulk back to “Europe”…

    And we need a right winger, especially if Adrian is gone. I love James Rodriguez and Gaitan, but Nani could be more viable option.

  • Pedro

    Some nice names mentioned but if we want to replace Falcao we would need more of a nine?? Since our play is built for him, otherwise we would have to change our style slightly, Falcao is very good at linking up and taking pressure of the back four with his hold up play. who else can do that on the market? I see why we are linked with hunterlaar since he would be a free transfer plus he does score goals although he has critics.

  • Alex

    James Rodriguez, hulk, nor Neymar would come to Atleti. We don’t have that kind of purse. Hulks buyout clause is over 100 mil. I love atlético, but i can’t see the possibility of these players coming here.

  • Urban

    The same was said bout Falcao

  • Pedro

    Cavani would be a great replacement, Napoli would sell to for £40 million too. That would then give us £10 milion to spare.

  • Dircil

    @Pedro: haha, nice joke bro!

  • leika

    Maybe Leandro Damiao, if he wants to take a step forward in his career and make way to Europe. Although I think he will stay in Brazil until the WC, because he doesn’t want to take a risk loosing his place in national team. Despite that I think he would be a perfect replacement for Falcao (if he leaves, let’s not rush things). I think he isn’t that expensive because he hasn’t proven himself in Europe and that’s why he is also a very risky signing. Another possibility would be getting Torres back from Chelsea. Actually if we happen to sell Falcao, I want us to sell him to Chelsea so that we have better possibilities to get Torres from them. It’s clear that Falcao needs a replacement if he leaves cause none of our own players is capable of becoming a new superstar. We need a superstar in front and lots of hard-workers around him.