The red and white aftermath: Match Day 29

Atleti fail to return to second place with sloppy home draw against Valencia

Mario Suarez and Jeremy Mathieu

Aerial duel between Mario Suárez and Jérémy Mathieu
(clubatleticodemadrid.com)

Atlético will lament missing out on the chance to move back into second in the league standings on Sunday after a troubling performance at the Vicente Calderón against a depleted Valencia outfit.

With a goal apiece in under seven minutes of play, the match was setting up to be a classic slugfest typical of engagements between these two sides.

The clash quickly degenerated into a fest of slugs however, particularly so for Atleti, who allowed their guests to dominate virtually all facets of the game. This was especially the case in the first half, with Diego Simeone’s men slightly improving after the break.

The stormy conditions on the evening probably didn’t help matters much, perhaps contributing to a dreadfully low pass success rate for Atlético (61%–a league low on the weekend), but then that wouldn’t explain los Che’s much better combination play.

Valencia’s pace was also presenting los Rojiblancos with some real trouble on defence, and matters took a turn for the worse when Arda hobbled off injured in the 27th minute.

The affair trudged along until, by the mercy of the football gods, the final whistle blew.

The shared points were of little value to either club. The Valencians dropped a place on the table from sixth to seventh, while Atleti’s lead over fifth place was reduced a tiny bit–from 15 to 14 points.

Obviously, there’s no real cause for alarm, but there may be some growing concerns about lack of motivation in Rojiblanco land and about our ability to generate offense.

Atleti will now return to the drawing board in preparation for their trip to neighbouring Getafe next Sunday.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone satisfied with draw, mum on referee

“We took on a team that has maintained a squad that has allowed them to be at the top in recent years; a team that is very competitive and is hoarding a lot of talent,” ‘El Cholo’ told reporters after the match.

“They might have the next best squad after Real Madrid and Barcelona, so that’s a credit to us. They played as such in the first half.

“We weren’t able to figure out how to close down on their spaces, but we were fortunate that in each of our attacks it seemed like we could create danger.”

The Argentine continued: “We were closer to putting together the game we needed to play in order to win in the second half. [Nelson Haedo] Valdez’ exit and Cissokho’s entry was evidence of that.”

“If you can’t win, the next best thing is a tie.”

When asked about having only made one substitution — that one by force — Simeone said: “The match called for a great deal of intensity and it was very even. We were better in the second half. I didn’t make any changes because I didn’t see any solutions.”

With regard to the job performed by referee Javier Estrada Fernández, who missed a clear ‘Thibauting’ effort by Jonas inside the box that should have resulted in a penalty in our favour, Cholo simply stated in English: “No comment.”

Welcome to March, Falcao

Though he was involved half as much as strike partner Diego Costa (31 touches for the ‘Beauty’ to 60 touches for the ‘Beast’ according to WhoScored), Radamel Falcao did manage to find the back of the net, waiting until the last day of March to pick up his first goal of the month.

The Colombian upped his league total to 22 this season, and now has 46 goals in La Liga after 60 Primera División appearances with Atleti. His total for the present term stands at 28, eight goals shy of his output from last season.

Despite the worrying signs of Falcao’s increasing inability to link up with teammates each passing week, the forward remains one of the most lethal penalty box predators in the universe.

Most league goals in consecutive seasons with Atlético: Baltazar, 53 (35 and 18); Forlán, 50 (32 and 18); Falcao, 46 (24 and 22). (Pedro Martin, COPE)

Arda injured after international break

As one Colchonera pointed out, it was a minor miracle that Arda returned from a FIFA break unscathed.

Unfortunately, our Turkish warrior sustained what has been deemed by the club as a right ankle sprain following a very rough challenge by Joao Pereira that went unseen and consequently unpunished.

Prior to suffering the knock, Arda had assisted Falcao with a beautiful cross over the entire Valencia back line that the ‘Tiger’ struck home one-time to bring us level. It was the former Galatasaray man’s fourth assist of the season and third in league play.

Tests will be performed on the 26-year-old’s ankle in order to determine the severity of his sprain.

Courtois really wanted to surpass Real Madrid

“It’s a shame about the result,” goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois told reporters after the bout.

“We could have passed Real Madrid.”

The Belgian idol’s spectacular back-to-back saves in the 34th minute to deny Piatti and Jonas, preventing Valencia from re-taking the lead, were among the very few highlights for Atleti on Sunday.

“There are still nine games left, we have a good team and we have to fight for second place because we’re so close to it,” the 20-year-old concluded.

Other notes:

  • Interestingly, young right-back Javi Manquillo of the reserve side, who filled in for the suspended Juanfran, totalled the most touches for Atleti on the evening with 68. However, the fullback was woefully imprecise with his passing, with an accuracy of 55%
  • Koke, with four, and Costa, with a team high nine, are both one yellow card shy of an automatic one-match suspension after being booked on Sunday.
  • As pointed out by COPE‘s Pedro Martin, Atlético have gone six straight league games against Valencia without a win (three ties, three losses). Throughout the same span though, los Rojiblancos have eliminated los Che from the late stages of the Europa League on two occasions.
  • Mr. Martin also informed that this is the first weekend of the season in which Barça, Real Madrid and Atleti all failed to win (all three tied).

  • Paulo

    What kind of miracles Raul Garcia does in the training field, if he gets this kind of trust year after year, when he so rarely delivers?
    It must be something about the person, ’cause it sure ain’t his skills.
    I may be repeating myself, but does his lazy touches really go unnoticed among the coaching staff?
    There were Cebolla, Adrian, Oliver, Tiago, Insua…
    And Simeone just tought: “I think Raul can get the job done. I have no other solutions.”
    I can’t believe Cholo really said “I didn’t see any solutions” with these guys on the bench…

    Tell me how is that not giving up when you have a chance to reclaim 2nd place in LA LIGA over Puta MADRID?
    Infuriating!

  • ali_

    +1

  • Robel Solomon

    @ Paulo
    I tend to agree with Cholo. There were issues with the team in every area apart from goal yesterday. Substitutions weren’t going to change that. Bringing on Raúl García to replace Arda was probably the most sensible thing to do: a midfielder for a midfielder. Óliver wasn’t on the bench oddly enough.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    “I didn’t make any changes because I didn’t see any solutions.” this is so sad , and Paulo my friend : it’s so true

    I was mad because Simeone didn’t use all his 3 substitutions, not only last night but also against Malaga and Sociedad when we drew and lost, and even against Osasuna when we won, because with 2-0 , Oliver should have had some minutes, at least 5 minutes!

    BUT after the mach last night I put myself in Simeone position and made some thinking .. what substitution could I’ve made?!
    there were only 2 players : Adrian & Cebolla, and if I send one of them on it would be for one of the 3 : Koke, Costa or Falcao .. so which one would it be ?!
    I can’t take off one of those three, Koke & Costa were the best 2 players in the team .. and Falcao is Falcao !
    and I can’t take RG off after he came on from the bench, it would hurt him very deeply

    So let’s face the ugly truth : Atleti have only 12 players (Tiago is the only sub who is in the same level of the XI starters) who are by the way have been memorized from every one, the fans, the coaches of other teams, the journalists, the commentators … every one !!

  • piserakos

    well… i can say that there are 3 reasons for atletico poor performance a lot time ago(about after the game with barcelona)…
    1. we have give up…. we can’t win la liga, we will be for sure at cl next season and we don’t cure a lot about pass real
    2. simeone changed the way that the team plays… (an ultra offensive team with a lot of pressing) at an defensive team which want to win with 1-0 with one opportunity
    3. diego costa can’t play with falcao… adrian falcao or adrian costa or maybe could be a better solution… even if costa plays so good we need speed!!!! there is no speed at team..
    -falcao-
    -adrian/arda-
    -arda/rodriguez- -koke-
    to conclute i think garcia is just a shit come one use adrian use rodriguez or oliver they are doing something better than this guy… my opinion those three are the reasons all of them

  • Andres (Lolaya)

    In my opinion Diego Costa was straying off to the left and Falcao to the right. I kept seeing the playing on the wings and hardly any good through the middle playing.

    The passing needs to improve for next game and I am sure it will.

  • MTON

    I really hope the board already concluded a deal for Falcao as I really don’t want to see him leave on a cheap following his disastrous 2nd half of the season.
    Now that this seasons goals are about done we can focus on strengthening the squad but only if we can offload Falcao on the right price.

  • Rowly

    I felt Atleti lacked width after Turan went off, and Adrian or Rodriguez would have been better solutions than Garcia. The match could still be playing now & would still be 1-1 because Simeone needed to make changes in the last 15-20mins to grab the 3pts but wouldn’t. Missed opportunity with Real Madrid drawing…