Well, it had to end some time.
Atlético’s perfect record at the Vicente Caldéron was unceremoniously broken up by Real Sociedad, who also snapped our nine-game home shutout streak in league play with a controversial second half goal on Sunday.
Diego Simeone’s men, who heavily out-shot their foes on the night, were exasperatingly inaccurate with their many attempts, managing a measly three shots on target out of a total of 21.
Atleti’s attack was in disarray, with our main target up top Falcao finding it very difficult to get himself meaningfully involved. With a little more luck though, we still could have found a breakthrough strike.
La Real’s goal, stemming from an offside position, was excessive punishment for a defence that held their own once again.
Possibly the most painful aspect of the defeat was losing second place to the dark side of town, wounding the pride of the Rojiblanco faithful, but by no means extinguishing it.
We’re still well on our way to booking a place among Europe’s finest for next season, entering the next round with a 13-point cushion over our closest challengers for a direct Champions League berth.
It’s another full week of rest for los Colchoneros ahead of next Sunday’s trip to Pamplona, where we will square off against a struggling and relegation-threatened Osasuna side.
“It’s quite a feat to win at the Calderón.” -Real Sociedad coach Philippe Montanier
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone felt his men needed more “combination play”
“The game was intense in the first 20 minutes,” Atleti boss Simeone, who was applauded by fans in the 14th minute in appreciation for his decision to stick around for another four years, said after the defeat.
“We felt that our goal was near but from that point on we lowered our intensity. We couldn’t move the ball quickly and lacked precision. They closed up well and showed they are great at counters.
“In the second half it was more of the same but they hurt us with their first goalscoring chance. We carried on without clarity but we did have desire, though we were unable to strike back at our opponents.”
‘El Cholo’ refused to comment on the missed offside call that should have nullified Xabi Prieto’s match-winning goal.
“They didn’t have many clear chances but this is all about decisiveness,” he said.
“They were more concrete and took advantage of the goalscoring chance they had. With regard to our desire, I have nothing to say.
“We lacked more combination play.”
Courtois breaks Abel’s record
The lone bright spot of the night was the record broken by on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian youngster surpassed former Atleti goalie Abel Resino’s record of 800 minutes without conceding a goal at the Calderón set back in the 1990/91 campaign.
The new mark stands at 820 minutes.
“We give up few shots and I try to save them, but it’s not just credit to me,” Thibaut told the club’s official website.
“I’m happy because it’s always nice to achieve a record, especially one like this, but it’s the work of the entire team, not just mine.
“But, I’d have preferred a win instead of the record.”
The 20-year-old continued: “A lot of people had told me about it but when I play I’m completely focussed on my team, my work. I found out I had broken the record when the fans sang my name, but I had to stay focussed.
“I’m very happy here. The supporters offer me affection and I have affection for them. I’m very happy in Madrid, with the people here and my teammates. It’s not a decision that depends solely on me, but everyone knows that I am happy here and if I can continue here I’d be delighted.”
Juanfran felt the loss was “unfair”
Atlético right-back Juanfran, now on four yellow cards after finding his way into Ayza Gámez’ book in the 47th minute, expressed the squad’s disappointment with the way the clash turned out.
“It’s a shame,” the 28-year-old said.
“The team is sad because we had a very good streak at the Calderón. We had the intention of winning today but it wasn’t to be.
“The result was unfair. Perhaps, at the least, we deserved a tie and I think it would have been the fairest result for both teams.”
He continued: “Their goal was from an offside position. We had chances that we couldn’t capitalise on. We’re going to keep working hard. The team is strong. It was a shame but the team will continue being strong.
“We’re competing with two of the best clubs in Europe. Every week we are forced to win and it’s a shame that we didn’t because now we’ve dropped one spot [in the standings].”
‘The Onion’ makes us cry
Last Sunday, following our scoreless draw in Málaga, Cristian ‘Cebolla’ Rodríguez voiced his slight discomfort with having to adapt to lining-up on the right given that he’s a natural left-winger.
Despite his ineffectiveness against Manuel Pellegrini’s men, Cholo decided to deploy the Uruguayan on the right again from the start of proceedings on Sunday, but the former Porto man drifted towards the centre and eventually to the left, though not out wide.
The majority of Atleti’s attacks were from Filipe Luís’ left flank, but they became too predictable. Cebolla was superfluous on the inside left and Juanfran was left all alone on the opposite side.
At this point we’re just beating a dead horse when we say ‘Onion Rings’ aren’t as great as an appetiser.
The Uruguay international should return to his normal duties as a late spark plug now that Mario Suárez and Gabi will both be available, allowing Koke, who filled in as a holding midfielder (his natural position) against the Txuri-urdin, to play in a more advanced role.
- Of our 10 starting field players, Radamel Falcao had the least amount of touches, with 41 according to WhoScored. Fellow striker Diego Costa had 61 total touches. Perhaps a sign of their frustration, both forwards were booked in this game.
- Diego Godín’s yellow card at the hour mark against La Real triggered an automatic one-match ban as it was his fifth booking of the season. The centre back will be unavailable for our trip to Osasuna next weekend, which likely means fan not-so-favourite ‘Cata’ Díaz will be filling in, unless Cholo decides to roll the dice with youngster Jorge Pulido.
- Sticking to the subject of bookings, Mario Suárez complained on Twitter during the game about having been shown a fifth yellow last weekend in Málaga for an intentional hand ball: “Because of a hand ball like Illarramendi’s today, I can’t play in this game and this time they didn’t show a yellow. Anyway…”. Poor Mario was forced to have to watch the match at home with this eye-sore.
- Cantera milestone: Youngster Koke reached 100 appearances with Atlético’s first team. (InfoAtleti)