My esteemed colleague Derek Maaijen poignantly expressed the sentiment in Rojiblanco land in his post-game not-a-match-report immediately following Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid.
Hours removed from that chapter of this never-ending story, and the frustration lingers.
The Madrid derby has long since been a matchup that defies logic.
A victory to the home side this time simply made too much sense.
Real fielded a squad composed of players later described by Mourinho’s deputy, Aitor Karanka, as “those that don’t tend to play so much”.
Los Blancos made the crosstown trip without their megastar and leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo for a bout sandwiched between semi-final fixtures against Borussia Dortmund — their only obsession being to overturn a 4-1 deficit against their German foes this Tuesday.
Mou’s men weren’t even into this game.
Meanwhile, Atleti had a chance to move into a points-tie in second place with their bitter rivals — not to mention mathematically clinch a Champions League berth a day before Simeone’s 43rd birthday, while celebrating the club’s 110th anniversary with a majestically outfitted Vicente Calderón and remembering all of their “Immortal Legends” with a huge banner.
Sadly, the only legend that doesn’t die is the legend of the ‘White Spell’.
Just when it felt like we had the Merengues pinned up against the ropes, they delivered what proved to be the knockout blow with a well-executed counterattack finished off by a creature that goes by the name of the ‘Noodle’ — as if having to look at Ángel ‘El Fideo’ di María in HD isn’t already a nightmare in and of itself.
A winless derby streak that now stands at 25 is bad enough, but another statistic that has reached double figures is arguably more alarming: we have now lost 10 consecutive clashes against Real.
One would think Rojiblanco fans would get the picture, but shortly after Saturday’s defeat, several Atléticos were already forming a line at the Calderón to buy their Copa del Rey final ticket and serving as a strong testament to our undying red and white faith.
Unfortunately, Atleti missed a great opportunity to rid themselves of a heavy psychological burden ahead of that cup final, which is only four matches away.
Up next are a pair of away games against Galician outfits fighting to stave off the drop in Deportivo and Celta, and then we host Barcelona.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone refused to admonish his players
“Goals are what count,” a reportedly visibly agitated Diego Simeone said after the game.
“They were effective with their chances. We played the match we wanted but weren’t able get the result we wanted.
The Atleti coach continued: “The game started off very well though they found the equaliser right away. The team’s attitude, from the standpoint of wanting to win, was always present.
“We played in our opponents’ territory but this is what’s so wonderful about football: whoever scores the goals, wins. Our opponents were effective and took the match. It’s a credit to them.”
‘El Cholo’ commended his men’s desire and their improvement from early December when they visited Real’s stadium.
“The players made a great effort, they gave their all,” he said.
“They played the game they wanted. Compared to the match at the Bernabéu, the team showed control and courage but it wasn’t enough to achieve the result. I’m happy with our work in spite of the fact that the sadness of having lost always exists.
“It was a missed opportunity, but we’ll have another one soon, two more next year, two more the following year. There will always be chances.
“Hopefully we’ll win the most important one.”
He continued: “At some point the story will end and another one will begin. We have a chance on the 17th. Perhaps, many believe that it’s not possible.
“That’s better for us.”
Falcao: fastest Atleti player to 50 league goals in club history
With his early opening strike, Radamel Falcao,making his 64th league appearance in red and white, became the fastest Atleti player to score 50 goals in La Liga, Mister Chip reported.
In the last 50 years of Primera División action, only two other players needed less matches to reach the 50-goal threshold than our Colombian hitman: Saturday’s most noteworthy absentee, Cristiano (after 51 games), and Ronaldo (after 62), according to COPE.
A breakdown of Falcao’s 50 goals in La Liga courtesy of Pedro Martin: 30 with the right foot, 10 with the left foot and 10 with the head. 34 at home and 16 away. 22 in the first half and 28 in the second half.
- Diego Godín’s assist was the Uruguayan’s second of the season.
- If it seemed as if Atleti were sending in cross-after-cross to absolutely no avail for most of the game, it’s because Atleti sent in cross-after-cross to absolutely no avail for most of the game. Our most active crossers for this match were, in this order: Juanfran (10 attempts, 1 completed); Koke (8 attempts, 1 completed); Costa (5 attempts, 0 completed); and Filipe (4 attempts, 1 completed). For those of us missing fingers with which to count, only 3 of those 27 attempts were successful.
- Diego Costa’s yellow card, his 10th (again), was for protesting and not for a supposed dive as was widely presumed, according to referee ‘Hey Everybody Look at Me, I Have A Whistle—Weeeeeeeeee’ Pérez Lasa’s official act. This makes the card very difficult to appeal, so the Brazilian will be suspended for our next game.
- Koke will also serve a one-match ban next weekend, as the young midfielder saw his fifth yellow card.
- Raúl García, who was back to his woeful ways of old on Saturday with a dreadfully low 48% pass success rate, is on four yellows.
- Right-back Juanfran’s 100th appearance with Atleti will be a forgetful one, as he scored his second own goal with the club. Los Colchoneros never really recovered from the 28-year-old’s inadvertent deflection.