The red and white aftermath: Match Day 32

Atleti get the job done in Sevilla ahead of upcoming derby

Thibaut Courtois and Radamel Falcao

Courtois and Falcao were the heroes in Sevilla

Atlético rained on Sevilla’s parade on Sunday, defeating their opponents on the final day of the Andalusian capital’s April Fair and snapping their six-game win streak at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.

With both sides fittingly looking hungover as the merry-making and festivities came to a close in Seville, Atleti made the most of their only clear chance of the evening to take the three points up for grabs.

For the first time since the Rojiblancos’ Doblete-winning season in 1995/96, the club have tallied 21 wins.

A sloppy, start-stop and combative affair, it was nonetheless one that undoubtedly pleased Atleti boss Diego Simeone, who — shortly after coming to the rescue in December of 2011 — admitted he’d be happy “attacking once and scoring one goal” as long as his men came out triumphant.

That’s exactly what happened in Nervión.

Los Colchoneros, who got the best of one of their most bitter rivals for the third time in the present campaign,  are now undefeated in their last five exits in La Liga, winning in three of those trips and drawing on two occasions.

More impressively, Atlético’s league’s best defence and goalkeeper have not allowed a single goal in those five forays.

Next weekend, Atleti will square off against fellow Copa del Rey finalists Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderón–without question the Rojiblanco faithful’s most-anticipated league bout.

Not only would a victory over our neighbours finally put an end to our miserable over-13-year-long winless spell against them, but it would also result in the clinching of a Champions League spot.

Atlético fans will restlessly have their eyes fixed on the falling sand of the hourglass until Saturday’s derby kicks off.

“We know how excited we are and our fans are about [the derby]. We’ll go out to win that game like we did at the Pizjuán.” – Diego Godín

Post-game notes and quotes:

Mr. Red and White

Decked out Reservoir Dogs style on the sidelines (you can call him Mr. Red and White), Diego Simeone was fired up during a clash that bore a lot of resemblances to some of Quentin Tarantino’s trademark themes: excessive violence and profanity, and badasses–in this case, personified by ‘El Cholo’ himself.

“Once again we faced off against a great opponent that offered a new system,” Simeone said after the encounter.

“As a result, we tried to control them holding more field possession than possession of the ball. We could’ve capitalised on one of our counters in the first half had we been sharper. The game was even more jammed in the second half. It was a match with a lot of tension and enthusiasm, and luckily, the goal that led us to victory appeared.”

He continued: “It’s a strong victory because it’s not easy to win on this pitch. You have to suffer and work hard.”

On his approach to Unai Emery’s strategy, Simeone said: “We knew that they could play with a three-man back line and we tried to let their centre-backs hold onto the ball to control the game behind their backs and narrow the spaces for their best players, like Rakitic, Navas, Negredo and Reyes, and I think we achieved that.

“We’re without Arda, whose an important player, and the team has reacted well. Tiago has also been unavailable and the team has reacted well. I repeat myself because I’m proud of my players.

“Hopefully, the fans are happy with the work of their team.”

Thibaut ‘Just Give Me The Zamora Now’ Courtois

In a very dull night when it came to individual performances for Atleti, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was hands down (and up, and to the left, and to the right) the squad’s star.

The Belgian wonder is putting together what will surely be remembered as the best season for any ‘keeper in club history, and it’s no exaggeration to say one of the best in La Liga history.

This win simply would not have been possible without our dear ‘Tibu’, who picked up his 18th clean sheet in Primera action–tying Abel Resino’s record set in the 1990/91 season, COPE pointed out. The 20-year-old has six games left to surpass Abel’s mark.

Falcao improves on inaugural campaign in Madrid

Coming off a two-goal performance against Granada a week before, ‘El Tigre’ was having a rough outing in Sevilla.

Defender Cala was making life miserable for Falcao, who wasn’t getting much help from referee José Luis González González. The Colombian was booked after his first foul: a retaliatory elbow to Cala in the 11th minute after the centre-back had smacked him around a number of times with impunity in the opening 10 minutes.

But our tiger got the last laugh, breaking the deadlock in the 76th minute with a reflexive deflection of an off-target volley by Raúl García after an ultra-classy lob in by Adrián.

The goal was Falcao’s 25th in La Liga this season, tying a career high in a single year of league play set at Porto in 2009/10.

The lethal hitman already has one more than he totalled in his inaugural campaign in the Spanish top flight.

It was the 27-year-old’s eighth match-winning goal in the present term.

Other notes:

  • A week after starting and nabbing one of Atleti’s five goals against Granada, Raúl García came on in the 63rd minute and later unintentionally provided an assist for Falcao, his third of the season and second in La Liga.
  • Diego Costa’s yellow card, which currently stands as his 10th, will likely be appealed and the club can make a solid case that the Brazilian didn’t foul Kondogbia–with whom he had previously had a much-publicised encounter in the Copa del Rey semi-finals. There was some concern the booking was due to protesting, which would be very difficult to overturn, but referee González González’ official act read: “Diego Da Silva Costa was booked for the following reason: knocking an opponent down when challenging for the ball.” Should Atleti fail to appeal or should the appeal prove unsuccessful, Costa will be unavailable for the derby next weekend. The forward probably should have been booked for this cringe-worthy example of horrible acting though.
  • Adrián, and very likely one of our staff members, will secretly be praying Costa will be suspended in the hopes Cholo will roll out with the Asturian against Real Madrid. ‘Perfect 7’ played a crucial role in the play that led to our lone goal, as he was the one who crossed the ball to Raúl. “Diego Costa is a spectacular player that is often gone after [by our opponents], but he offers us so much,” Adrián said of his teammate. On the possibility of starting against Real Madrid, the former Deportivo man told reporters: “I’ll have to train hard because there are many days left and the coach is the one who decides. We’ll see who plays but I have to do well in training this week.
  • 18-year-old Atleti B midfielder Saúl made his league debut with the first team when he replaced Koke in the 89th minute.
  • Atlético have, by far, the most clean sheets in La Liga in the present campaign. Their total of 18 shutouts are followed not-so-closely by Málaga, who have 12. The club improved on their clean sheet record in a single season set last weekend, which now stands at 27.
  • Koke avoided a fifth yellow that would have resulted in an untimely ban, however, the gifted midfielder sustained a knock to the knee–the severity of which is still unknown. Hopefully it’s just a bruise and the 21-year-old will be fit to take part on Saturday.

  • starvs

    No comments!? This was a great victory, aupa atleti, puta sevilla. Very very close to CL now.

  • starvs

    also, LOL Costa; come on man, that was reaaaaaaaalllllll bad.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    *Atleti fans can tolerate the aggressiveness of Diego Cosat – in fact many fans love this quality of him – but what he did against Sevilla is unacceptable, he should have seen the red card, we do not accept these (Busquets Acts) in our great club, Simeone should have a serious talk with him

    *although De Gea was a Canterano, but I never loved him the way I love Courtois .. I’ll be very sad if this kid left Atletico

    *I don’t understand why some fans criticize RG8, in my opinion he is one of the most important players at Atleti, he is the 3rd top scorer in all competitions, before Adrian the striker and Arda who played much more minutes than him
    in fact I believe the goal against Sevilla was his, I watched it many times and I couldn’t see Falcao touch the ball, but even if he did the ball was already in it’s way to goal

    give RG8 some credit please.

  • shlomgar

    Would never give Garcia a break. He is s%@t. He just stands there until nobody’s noticing him and then he kicks the ball, mostly nowhere. I hate him and will keep hating him even if he’ll win us 10 more games. A look at his grin face after the goal made me want to puke, it was a nasty smile… I will stop when he’d learn to pass better than a 9 yo football player.

  • Atleti-Rus

    Man, no need to get so emotional about RG. He’s effective against weaker clubs or in a tight games like the one with Sevilla. Sadly, he really has nothing to offer against smarter opponents who trick him like a baby. That is to say, when Atletico plays like a club from the middle of the table, RG is the right tool, but when there is some magic going on on the field, he’d rather not step in.

    Costa made me laugh, hope Simeone will have a serious talk with him.

    And yep – I too think that the RG’s goal would’ve gone in without Falcao’s help.

  • Paulo

    It wasn’t pretty, but the game offered nail-biting tension ’till the last second and Atleti fought well.

    There was this one tele shot angle replay, where you could clearly see RG’s shot going wide, until Radamel got his foot to it. It was a great goal, good to see Garcia hit a volley, but I would recommend everybody to watch the goal from somewhere and keep looking Adrian how he creates the attack. Nice touch with the pass, too. This is what we need more. He’s got so much talent and flair.

    Ahmad Hossainy: Who gives a shit about numbers? Don’t you watch the games and see RG’s movement and the lack of FLAIR? He’s joggin into every ball. Raul Garcia has NEVER been one of the important players in Atleti. He is playing his best season EVER and look at him. There’s not much potential to be better. In my opinion the Eaglenose should go back to Pamplona next season and help his hometown and I guess I’m not the only one who thinks that way. No hate, just plain critique.

    Diego Costa was a target of shit-talking and dirty playing all night from the puta sevilla (a bit self-inflicted, maybe) and the referee had a wooden eye, so I can understand he just wanted to take somehing back. Too bad nobody likes a faker and he just got caught big time!

    !Aupa ATLETI!

  • piserakos

    yes paulo i saw that… i watched the game and for the 30 minute costa i was just wanted to see adrian before it’s too late(simeone many times does the subs too late) because costa did an awfull game and i was sure adrian could give us some speed and tehnique and yes he did… keep working adrian i want to see last year adrian. i also agree with garcia we must sell him(i believe we can get almost 10mill)

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    @shlomgar @Paulo : guys, I didn’t say RG is a superstar, but he is not a disaster neither .. he is an ordinary player, just like many others in Atleti, BUT only him who receives this much criticism, not even Godin who every couples of games makes ridiculous mistakes that sometimes cost us goals and other times Miranda or Courtois correct his mistake

    come on guys, does not any one remember the great last season he had with Osasuna !!

  • JimboWithTheDancingShoes

    Must admit that I am a bid ashamed of Diego Costa’s ridicolous dive after he was “headbanged” by an Sevilla player. What a disgrace. This is also one of the main reasons that I hate Barca, all that diving (that’s you, Alba, I’m talking about!). I would hate it if we become a diving team as many other big club around europe is. Love you Costa, but that’s just belov-par behavior. Hope as some of you also metioned that Simeone will take talk with. Besides that what a great win! Great to see Adrían come back from the dead and! Again this is a match we would have lost just a couple of seasons ago. We’re starting to look like a real top top team. Champions league here we come!

    Aupa Atléti!

  • JimboWithTheDancingShoes

    As ashamed I am about his dive as happy(•5) am I that he will be ready for el derby! (Thh Beat that is who will be ready) The clubs appeals has been heard. For two weeks in a row, now it is Koke’s turn to get an unfair yellow card just to get it withdrawn after the match. Damn this just became a good morning!