25 of 27 points!
Atlético spoil their supporters with another victory — their 12th straight — sweeping aside lowly Osasuna 3-1 at the Vicente Calderón on Sunday to remain level with Barcelona at the top of the Spanish table.
The clash started off pretty much the way the ‘Cholo Effect’ has allowed us to expect matches of this nature (home games against bottom-of-the-table sides) to start, with a dominant display that saw our men go up 2-0 on the scoreboard after 35 minutes of play.
A momentary lapse before the break allowed los Rojillos back in the game for a bit, with the start of the second half exemplifying Atleti’s tendency to completely cede possession to their opponents regardless of strength, letting them get aroused by their wannabe Barcelona tiki-taka impersonation.
Meanwhile, Diego Simeone’s gang is busy at work, sneaking their visitors’ wallets out of their pockets, counting the bills, and before their foes know it, they’re on their way home empty-handed, three points short.
Though the context of what Simeone told the press a couple weeks ago was different, the spirit of his declaration still holds true: “We didn’t come here to put on a show. We came here to win.”
For you see, Atleti just don’t give a damn about possession. All it takes is one mistake, one lapse in concentration for the tiger to pounce.
Next up for Atlético is their Copa del Rey opener on Wednesday night at Real Jaén. Then on Saturday, we face arguably our biggest test since the Super Cup when we confront Valencia at the Mestalla; though, under new coach Mauricio Pellegrino, los Che have looked nothing like the perennial third-place side formerly commanded by Unai Emery.
The red and white streaks: 22 games unbeaten, 12 wins in a row in all competitions, 8 straight victories in La Liga, 7th consecutive league appearance by Falcao with a goal.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone boasts of his squad’s “18 starters”
“We knew it would be a tough game against needy opponents,” Diego Simeone said in the post-game press conference.
“Our plan was to roll-out fresh players to compete in the first half. Later, Arda and Adrián’s entry gave us more precision.
“The result was a fair one.”
The Argentine tactician, who has led his hombres to a 15-game unbeaten streak in La Liga dating back to last season, highlighted the quality depth he has at his disposal.
“This match confirms that we have 18 starters,” he said.
“I always talk about ‘the group’, and I don’t say that just to make the players happy, I say it because it’s the truth.”
He continued: “In this game for example, Diego Costa and Koke didn’t come in, and I always try to find the player that will offer the team the best chance to compete. I hope to make the least mistakes possible.”
Miranda draws first blood
Central defender Miranda picked up his second goal of the season with a lovely header from a free kick cross by Gabi. The Brazilian had previously scored our fourth goal against Chelsea in the Super Cup.
The 28-year-old, who now has four total goals since joining los Rojiblancos two summers ago, told reporters that while his goal “was important, the three points were more important”.
“The team is doing very well but we must continue,” he said. “We have to enjoy this for a bit because we know that we still have very tough matches ahead.”
Miranda admitted to having a little too much fun after scoring his goal, explaining his hands-behind-his-back celebration as follows:
“It’s a celebration from goals scored on PlayStation,” he said. “When I play I try to copy each goal celebration from the PlayStation.”
Raúl García scores his third league goal of the season
Unlike his Brazilian team-mate, Osasuna youth product Raúl García refused to celebrate after scoring against his hometown club.
The strike, assisted by Osasuna centre-back Alejandro Arribas, was Raúl’s fourth goal of the season (three league goals and one goal in the Europa League), which matches his previous single-season record at Atleti, achieved twice: in the 2007/08 and in the 2008/09 campaigns.
‘El Cholo’ broke down the 26-year-old’s role afterwards, explaining that he planned to use him as a “false winger starting off on the right and moving inside”.
“Raúl could have scored a goal earlier with his head, on another chance with his foot, and yet another opportunity that he just missed until he finally got his goal.”
The Pamplona-born man’s season of redemption continues, though evidently, judging from a mysterious tumble he took when he was free on goal early in the game, there are still some ghosts at the Vicente Calderón not quite ready to forgive the midfielder for his lousy first stint in red and white.
Pointless red and white fact: ‘Curará Liga’ is an anagram of ‘Raúl Garcia’, which in Spanish means: ‘He who will cure La Liga’. Coincidence? Yes.
Falcao remains scorching hot
It was really just a matter of time before Radamel Falcao was going to get his.
The Colombian hitman responded to the club’s Golden Tiger marketing campaign by picking up his 13th goal of the term (10 in La Liga and 3 in the Super Cup) and he has now scored in 11 straight appearances with Atleti and his national team (17 goals in that span).
Falcao scratched Osasuna off the list of 20 Spanish clubs he had faced but had not previously scored against, with Levante, Zaragoza, Sevilla and Valencia remaining as the only sides to have averted his fangs.
‘El Tigre’ is scheduled to appear on Spanish television show Punto Pelota Monday night, a notoriously pro-Madridista programme.
It will be interesting to see how Falcao handles the inevitable questions about his future.
If the idea of our ferocious feline attending the show irks you, do not proceed to read what [jack]AS[s] journalist Tomás Roncero, a co-host of the show, tweeted out upon learning of the news [don’t say I didn’t warn you!]: [really? you still want to read it? alright, here goes, but don’t take out your anger on us, your laptop, tablet or smart phone]
“Bombshell tomorrow on Punto Pelota with the presence of Falcao in the studios. It will be an honour to be close to this stud who has been a [Madridista] since he was a child.”
Should onions be cultivated as a new energy source?
Cristian ‘El Cebolla’ Rodríguez is the only player to appear in every single Atleti game this season. Like Adrián a year ago, it’s hard to fathom that the ‘Onion’ arrived at our doorstep free of charge.
The Uruguayan always, whether as a starter or a sub, brings his relentless, fierce intensity to the pitch and plays as if he were performing a role as the main character in a Jason Statham film–as if he had to keep his adrenaline at the highest level in order to stay alive.
In the opening 45 minutes, the former Porto man blasted two shots on target, the first a spectacular drive way out from distance that forced a fine fingertip save out of Osasuna goalkeeper Andrés.
Late in the second half Adrián sent him forward on an almost full-field fast break. Cebolla raced forward and looked determined to find the back of the net but, ultimately, his shot was well-wide of the target.
As evidence of his fiery disposition, the 27-year-old was seen furiously pounding the ground from whence he and his fellow vegetable ancestors came following his miss.
A very appreciative Calderón crowd quickly falling in love with their new washed-ashore jewel offered Rodríguez a strong ovation when he was replaced by Tiago with about 10 minutes left on the clock.
- Gabi picked up his first assist of the campaign with his free kick cross headed in by Miranda to open the scoring on Sunday.
- Juanfran, like his fullback partner on the opposite flank Filipe Luís, was a constant menace out wide and in an advanced position. The former Osasuna man bagged his third assist of the season with his cross to Falcao on our third goal of the night.
- This is the first time in Atlético history that the club have won eight consecutive games in a Primera División campaign.