The red and white outlaws held the Estadio Nuevo José Zorrilla hostage Saturday night, making their way out of town with a 2-0 victory. The win also makes it a perfect 15 out of a possible 15 points in Primera action so far this campaign.
Nothing can stop Cholo’s gang, despite their worst first half of football thus far this season.
Though Diego Simeone’s men began the clash in Valladolid mysteriously lacking the driving force that has propelled them to top dog status in Spain, a half time pep talk was apparently all that was needed to revitalise our guys.
The second 45 minutes were a completely different story.
Los Rojiblancos came back out of the locker room revamped and looking like the well-oiled goal machine that has quickly become the subject of Merengue children’s (and adults’) nightmares.
Led by a fantastic Koke, Atleti completely dominated the second half, unrelentingly bombarding their foes and managing to get two past the Pucela to keep pace with Barcelona.
The squad will be on short rest once again ahead of Osasuna’s visit to the Vicente Calderón on Tuesday, and will hope to take their perfect record into the Bernabéu for Saturday’s derby.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone keeps making history
The volumes of record books in Rojiblanco land keep stacking up thanks to the incredible work performed by the team under the command of Diego Simeone.
In all of the 720 minutes of play in the present campaign in all competitions, Atleti have not been down on the scoreboard for a single second.
It’s only the fourth time in Colchonero history that the club have won their first five games in La Liga.
“In the first half, Valladolid played a great match, competing and not allowing us to play the way we feel most comfortably,” the triumphant Atleti boss said afterwards.
“The players had a great response in the second half. The team was at a different pace. They had an insistence that made them competitive and our opponents began to surrender.
“It has been a match of persistence.”
Raúl García level with Villa on goals
For many members of Atleti’s fan base, nothing Raúl García does will change their unfavourable opinion of him.
This, despite the fact that, since returning from Osasuna last year, the 27-year-old has consistently — when given the chance — turned in some very solid performances.
There’s the impression that he scores every time he’s handed a start. His goal on Sunday to break the deadlock was a real thing of beauty, a looping header off of an extraordinary, volleyed-in-cross by Koke.
‘RG8’ now has as many goals as El Guaje in the present term (three) and once again received the praise of his coach.
“Raúl is decisive,” Simeone said.
“It makes me happy that Atlético supporters value him, because he deserves it.”
We don’t want to ruin this special moment for García, so we will not point out his lowly 59% pass success rate against Valladolid.
Hungry ‘Beast’ gets his meal
It wasn’t one of Atleti leading scorer Diego Costa’s finest showings — the striker wasn’t particularly sharp with the ball and lacked some of that attitude we’ve grown to love (he only drew one foul) — nonetheless, the ‘Beast of the Manzanares’ added his name to the scoresheet when he slotted in our insurance goal.
Costa moved into a second-place tie with Barcelona’s Pedro in the Pichichi standings with five goals, while Messi leads the pack with six goals.
Koke approaching supernova status
Only one thing has become clear ahead of preparing these match recap pieces: Koke will be mentioned.
We’ve only played five games and it feels like a season’s worth of praise has been written about him.
The Atleti jewel collected two more assists on the evening to bring his total on the season up to five, four of them in league play.
Only Fàbregas has more assists (five) in La Liga than our ‘Georgie Resurrection’.
And what class! Whether by air or by land — see Saturday’s goals — defences better be on the lookout when the 21-year-old approaches ball on foot.
Manquillo makes his case
Spelling Juanfran, Atleti youth academy product Javi Manquillo appeared in the fold for the first time this season.
The 19-year-old delivered.
“He has a bright future,” ‘Cholo’ said of his young fullback.
“It’s very tough to train and not play, but he responded. We need the youngsters.”
Manquillo’s notable highlights included a wonderful, pin-point cross into the box that Costa was unable to make solid contact with, and a clean-sheet-saving clearance, when Courtois had been beaten by Colombian forward Humberto Osorio.
The defender could very well be threatening to displace Juanfran in the starting XI and complicate things for newcomer Toby Alderweireld.
“I’m very happy about the game, but especially about the team’s victory and the three points,” Manquillo told reporters after the bout.
“We have to keep it up.”
He continued: “There is a tremendous amount of competition in training and the truth is, it’s practically unnoticeable when someone replaces another.”
“[Manquillo] has a tremendous future ahead of him. He will be a very high quality fullback and will play with the Spanish national team, for sure.” – Filipe Luís
- Filipe, who made his 100th league appearance in red and white stripes on Saturday, admitted that it was a Cholo speech at the break that pumped up the squad for the second half. “We came into the game a bit lazily, and after a talk with the coach at the half, we changed. He gave us a good speech and the second half was different. We dominated our opponents until we scored, taking advantage of their mistakes and we took the points.“
- Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois picked up his second shutout in La Liga this season (third overall), but hardly broke a sweat.
- David Villa failed to impress this game and was taken off early after he was seen grimacing in pain. It’s unclear if Cholo removed him in the 58th minute, shortly after our first goal, because of a possible injury or because it was evident he was a non-factor in the encounter. When Arda replaced Villa, the club overwhelmingly took control of the match.
- Normally, if Atleti have won the possession battle, as was the case on Saturday, (51% to 49%) they have lost the war.
- Previous seasons in which Atlético have won their first five games: 1941-42, 1964-65, 1991-92. (COPE)
- Atleti have tied their best unbeaten streak on the road (15; also achieved in the 1984-85 season).
- We’d be remiss if we did not give a special mention to the Atleti fans who made their way out to Valladolid to support our men. Their voices were heard loudly and clearly through our TV sets, and were the highlight of the dull first half.