It didn’t take long for David Villa to make a mark for Atlético Madrid. On Saturday he made his official debut for Los Rojiblancos against Las Palmas and it took El Guaje just 40 minutes to score his first goal.
Villa received the ball a few yards outside the box and left goalkeeper Barbosa without a chance as he hit the back of the net with a ferocious strike. It was only the forward’s first game for Atleti, as he stayed behind in Madrid over the summer to get in shape, while his teammates travelled to South America for a series of friendlies.
Spain’s all time top-scorer was visibly excited after the game and spoke of the hard work he has put in over the last few weeks.
“This team has a clear system and after this week’s training sessions I now understand my role better. I’m happy to be able to play with my team-mates and we’ll continue to gel together,” Villa said.
“For a striker the most important thing is to score goals and for me it’s important to have debuted with one. I’m very happy because we have worked very hard in preseason and now it’s paying off.”
“I’m happy that the people here also recognize our hard work; they applauded when we came off the pitch.”
Villa seems to have been convinced by Simeone’s mindset as he told reporters “all we have to do now is to continue to work, work and work. We have to work hard and improve and then I’m sure that with the team-mates I have here I’ll be able to score more goals.”
Diego Simeone again started the game with what appears to be his strongest eleven. Other than David Villa, the players that lined up against Las Palmas started most games this pre-season and are all expected to start in Sevilla when we start the season next Sunday.
Óliver Torres also gets some game time
After an hour of play, Diego Simeone introduced Tiago and Óliver Torres, who replaced Mario and Koke. Like Villa, this was first time Oli featured this pre-season as he too had stayed behind in Madrid to work on his fitness level.
With the transfer window deadline approaching and without any new players coming in, it seems more and more likely that young Óliver will be the creative midfielder that Atlético rely on.
He looked good against UD Las Palmas and set-up Diego Costa to score ten minutes after coming on, but the Brazilian was denied by Barbosa.
In a post game interview, Torres said he feels he’s ready for the new season.
“I’m feeling very good. Last season for me was about learning and getting used to the league, this season I feel more prepared. It’s good to feel like I’m part of this group and I want to get the responsibility of helping my teammates. I want to make the most of the opportunities I’m given and win a spot in the team.”
Oli also commented on Saturday’s goal scorer, saying “David has shown he brings a lot of goals. Hopefully he’ll continue like this because he can give us great things. We have been training together and [David and I] get along really well on and off the pitch.”
Cebolla also on the scoreboard
The game against UD Las Palmas finished 2-0, and Cristian Rodríguez added a goal shortly before the end. Filipe Luís had stormed forward in typical fashion and crossed from the left, connecting with Cebolla who scored with a diagonal strike.
Atleti left a good impression and appears to be ready for the clash in Sevilla after three straight victories to end the pre-season.
Line-up: Courtois; Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Koke (“58 Óliver Torres), Gabi, Mario (“58 Tiago), Arda (“69 C. Rodríguez); Diego Costa (“78 Raúl García) and Villa (“69 Leo Baptistão).
Goals: 0-1 Villa (“40); 0-2 C. Rodríguez (“82)