The red and white aftermath: Match Day 8

Costa double keeps Atleti's perfect start alive in defeat of pesky Celta

Arda celebrates with Sunday's hero Costa (AS)

Arda celebrates with Sunday's hero Costa (AS)

Despite their clear superiority for most of the afternoon, Atlético struggled to dispose of Celta Vigo at the Vicente Calderón on Sunday.

Ultimately, a Diego Costa brace was enough to extend the club’s record league start to eight straight wins.

Celta goalkeeper Yoel made 10 saves to prevent a bloodbath and, together with Nolito, kept his team alive until the very end of the proceedings.

Los Colchoneros, who were at their most merciful, squandered countless chances but still managed to withstand their Galician foes’ late onslaught for the triumph.

The victory came at the expense of David Villa and Gabi though, both hobbling off with injuries–our captain’s knock apparently a more severe one.

Normally, ahead of an international break, this space would be reserved for griping; but, the host of injuries to key players in recent days has us singing a different tune this time.

The squad could surely use the rest to recover following an intensely demanding past three weeks.

Our men will be looking to retain their spot at the top of the table when they return to action on the 19th to square off against Espanyol in Barcelona.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone pleased with squad’s first half performance

For the second time in Atleti history, the club have won eight straight matches in league play.

Both of those streaks have come during Diego Simeone’s magnificent tenure as an Atleti manager.

A win at the Cornellà-El Prat in about a fortnight will set an Atlético record in consecutive Primera victories.

“Today, the team put together one of the best first halves since we got here,” Simeone said after the clash.

“It was a complete first half in which the only thing that was missing was scoring. Dominance throughout the field, dominance in goalscoring chances, defensive tension and in the pressure we applied in our opponents’ half.”

He continued, praising his charges and highlighting opposing goalie Yoel’s strong performance: “I leave very happy with that first half in which the game could have been resolved. Yoel had a great showing, that’s why the match was never closed out.

“It was all credit to Celta, who forced us to retreat and we couldn’t string together that connection that we had for the majority of the game. In the last 15 to 20 minutes, Celta were much more involved offensively. They were much looser and more uninhibited. That complicated things for us because, individually, they have very good players in one-on-one situations and they were able to inflict some damage.

“The match had been played so well by us earlier, and in the final minutes we were overwhelmed a bit because our opponents also know how to play and it’s normal they made us retreat so much.”

‘Cholo’ proceeded to offer a detailed assessment of his men’s outing.

“The team’s play was very continuous, there weren’t any let ups,” he said.

“It was a continuous attack, continuous play, through the right flank, the left flank, through the centre…the team had several attacking options. We did that well. We defended well, which is hard to do when you have so much space at the back.”

Costa celebrates 25th birthday as Pichichi of La Liga

“Once again, he had a great performance,” Simeone said of star striker Diego Costa, who turns 25 on Monday.

“In this past almost year and a half he has grown tremendously since his return from Rayo. He has earned it because he has worked for it. He is constantly improving and that makes us happy for him.

“I believe he still has a lot of room for improvement and we hope to be able to benefit from it.”

The Brazilian’s Sunday had actually gotten off to a rough start.

In spite of finding himself in position to score on several occasions early on in the first half — including off of a penalty — the big man was repeatedly denied by Celta goalkeeper Yoel.

His exasperation was most evident after he missed his spot kick in the 26th minute–he had made his last five and Atleti had converted their previous 13. The ‘Beast of the Manzanares’ rattled the core of the Earth when he punched the ground in frustration–jolting Colchoneros in the Americas awake in the wee hours of the morning on that side of the world.

Costa was able to redeem himself shortly thereafter though, when he, comically, stole a goal from Diego Godín off a pass into the goalie box by Filipe Luís.

He later out-muscled Fontás after receiving a ball from Gabi and slotted in his second.

The forward now has 10 goals on the campaign and not only leads Spain, but all of Europe. He has more goals than Falcao, who has seven with Monaco and has twice as many goals as Granada have as a whole team.

The last time a Primera División striker scored in seven of the first eight games in a season was in 1987, when former Colchonero-turncoat Hugo Sánchez did so with Real.

Impressed yet? No?

The Beast’s start is the best by a Rojiblanco attacker in 60 years! Only two other strikers have scored more after a season’s first eight games in red and white: Pruden, who bagged 12 in 1940-41, and Escudero, who struck for 11 in the 1952-53 term.

Costa only needs one more goal to break his career best single-season mark in Primera.

“What’s important is that we won, not who scored the [first] goal,” the man of the hour said regarding the confusion about our opening strike.

“I’m very happy.”

On his failed spot kick, Costa said: “I don’t like to miss penalties. It’s normal that I was disappointed. If I had another chance I would have taken it and I would have scored it.”

He continued: “The good thing is that I had the opportunity to score another two goals.”

Diego offered some kind words for his nemesis on the day.

“Yoel played an incredible match,” he admitted.

Finally, on the hottest topic in Spain at the moment — that of his national team decision between Brazil and Spain — Costa said: “I’ve played my whole career here [in Spain] regardless of having been born in Brazil. Spain has given me everything and if I have to play for la Selección I will do so in the best way possible.”

“Diego Costa is the soul of Atleti” -Mario Suárez

Captain down

Once again, Gabi quietly put together a fantastic performance–nabbing his fourth assist on the season (second in La Liga action) and ending the clash with the most touches despite sustaining an ugly knee injury the club later categorised as a grade II sprain.

This is much better news than expected, and the veteran midfielder should only be sidelined for about two to three weeks.

David Villa was also forced to come off early. Cholo explained that ‘El Guaje’ experienced “pain in his ankle” and that “he should recover shortly and will be fine”.

The Spain international, who missed an absolute sitter moments before being taken out, will not be travelling with his national team this week.

“I would’ve traded the victory to prevent Gabi’s injury. We hope that it’s nothing major. We’re sad because he’s a very important player for us, our captain. We’re happy about the win but, at the same time, sad. I repeat, I would’ve traded the win in order for Gabi to be okay.” – Juanfran

Other notes:

  • After winning the penalty Atleti failed to capitalise on, Filipe Luís delivered a square ball into a Diego sandwich. Godín and Costa both simultaneously pounced on the left back’s pass, but it was the Beast who was credited with the opening goal. Filipe picked up, surprisingly, only his first assist of the season.
  • Summer signing Josuha Guilavogui finally debuted, coming on in the 89th minute to replace Gabi.  He touched the ball once.
  • UPDATE: Koke makes it to the Aftermath after all. As our frequent guest and forum member Jimbo With the Dancing Shoes (birth name) points out in the comments, our ‘Georgie Resurrection’ momentarily debuted as team captain when Gabi left the pitch.
  • Atleti surpassed Athletic Bilbao on the all-time points rankings in La Liga with Sunday’s victory, the club totaled 3,132. Los Rojiblancos now sit in fourth behind Valencia, who have 3,183 points. UPDATE: See Ahmad’s explanation below in the comments section in which he explains why Atleti are, in fact, the third best team in the league’s history.
  • When the players travel with their national teams, it’s fantastic. I had the opportunity to do so. I know how important and beautiful it is, especially when you’re close to qualifying for an upcoming World Cup. They are going to compete in very decisive games for the future of their selections and, obviously, that is very good for them.” – Simeone, on his squad’s internationals

  • farhan

    we believe VILLA will score …

  • pantic#10

    Farhan i do believe it too 😉
    Villa aside his physical problems, is a little bit “depressed” for his lack of scoring.
    But these 2 weeks will help him to relax and return stronger than ever. we need his class and talent.

  • kris

    Villa needs to be confident again.. This is not gonna cut it for Spain’s all time leading goal scorer. He seems so unconfident shooting the ball and he is also having problems dribbling.. I pray to god that he gets fine soon and finds his best form and starts assisting and scoring and forming the best attacking duo with Diego Costa. Diego Costa needs his 35+ goals, and David Villa needs to regain form to be in the World Cup for Spain.. They are both gonna need to help each other this season, most importantly to help the team achieve its best season ever.. Come on Villa, we believe in you!!! Aupa Atleti!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    dear Martin, 3,132 are the total number of points for Atleti in La Liga until yesterday match
    we had them from 1147 wins, 570 draws and 753 defeats in 2470 games in 77 seasons in first division (including this one)
    using 2 points for a win until season 1995-96 when La Liga started to use 3-points-for-a-win system

    in fact we do have more wins than Valencia too, although they played 2 more seasons in La Liga than us (this is their 79th season and ours 77th)
    Atleti after the win vs Celta have 1147 wins
    while Valencia have 1132 wins including the 4 wins they achieved this season

    but Valencia still have more all-time points though, with 3,183 points (3,132 for us)

    BUT if we used the 3-points-for-a-win system for all the seasons we will exceed them:
    Valencia : P 2520, W 1132, D 578 L 810
    POINTS : 3974

    Atletico : P 2470, W 1147, D 570, L 753
    POINTS 4011

    WITH A LITTLE THINKING, we will realize that the cause of this difference is that since the start of using the 3-points system in season 1995-96, Valencia had much more points than Atleti,
    and of course they did ..
    after 95-96 we have been relegated to Segunda and stayed there for 2 seasons, then after promotion we struggled for many seasons
    while Valencia since 95-96 have won the title twice and finished in the top 4 in another 8 seasons

    using the 3-points system, we are 3rd behind Real & Barca in All-Time La Liga Table
    while using the actual numbers of points, we just moved one position after beating Celta, from 5th to 4th, behind Real, Barca & Valencia and above Athletic with only one point
    and we can finish the season this way if we kept the 9 points difference between us and Bilbao

    In this page on wikipedia you can find the All-time La Liga Table
    BUT it’s NOT including this season, it’s until the end of the last season 2012-13

    and you can make the calculations.

  • Martin Rosenow

    @ahmad Thanks! I’ve included an update in the other notes section.

  • JT

    Villa will recover soon – get better ‘El Guaje’!

  • Jimbo_With_the_Dancingshoes

    I’m missing some Koke!
    he did after all make is debut as an atléti captain!
    and almost more surprisingly didn’t pick up an assist.

  • LosColchonero

    One other correction, when Diego Costa fist punched the ground his shock waves would have jolted New Zealand and not the Americas. It’s pretty interesting since the exact polar opposite of Madrid on the other side of the world is a deserted area in New Zealand where the fauna culture must be really susceptible to tectonic plate jolts and movements.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Thank you Martin for your response and correcting the mistake

    in another topic, I’ve watched the 1st goal against Celta many times from all angles and I’m sure it was Godin’s
    is it possible that although he knew it was his he still gave the credit to Costa to help him in the race to Pichichi title ?!
    and is it possible that the ref. wrote down the goal under Costa’s name after he saw Godin’s gesture ?!

    I don’t know ..
    but what I know for sure is that there is a great love between Atleti players, a selflessness, a brotherhood

    unlike many other teams, Atleti is a big family .. a very happy one

  • First time no mention of Koke.

    Even as a two minute captain 🙁

  • Martin Rosenow

    @Ahmad I saw a photo, don’t remember where, that shows definitively that Costa was the last to touch it.

    @Ty I almost included a note saying that very thing just to keep the tradition alive.

  • Martin Rosenow

    @Jimbo You’re right brother! I very easily could have included a Koke note on that. I’ll add it now.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    @JIMBO @TY : Koke being Captain was my best moment of the game

    in fact that could open the debate we had in the pre-season about who should be the 2nd vice Captain after our 2nd vice Captain (Falcao) has left

    we had a discussion here and I remember that the 2 players who had the most votes from the visitors of this page were Koke & Arda, but El Cholo chose Raul Garcia

    I’ve nothing against RG8, in fact I’m one of his (few) fans
    he totally deserves to be a captain considering the long time he spent with the club (this is his 6th season, more than any other player except Gabi who plays also his 6th season with Atleti), his leading characters and his commitment

    but his only problem is that he is not a regular starter, and we already have a 1st vice captain who is also not a regular starter, Tiago

    so I guess Simeone should pick a 3rd vice captain because -apparently- we will need him many times this season .. Koke sounds a great choice

  • GreekRojiblanco(piserakos)

    thank god villa’s and gabi’s injury isn’t that bad… i haven’t seen the foto mentioned above but i think it’s 80-20 costa’s goal but godin tuched last the ball that makes him assister so it has to be his assist not filipe’s right? and yes if referee wasn’t sure who was the goal he could accept that atleti’s players gave the goal to the pichichi leader… i think that was a poor game from koke(from what we used too) that’s why he wasn’t mentioned… now we rest, our injured players will have recovered(maybe gabi won’t) work and try to put joshua and toby to the team i think they have to be more active parts…. next game espanyol! aupa atleti

  • pantic#10

    I’ve read on the web many many many comments to support Gabi.
    I’m so happy about it! that all the fans know and understand how he’s important for the team.
    This was a “lucky” injury, could be a lot worse.

    I don’t know how i’ll survive 2 weeks without an Atleti match…i’m an Atleti-addict…

  • dircil

    @Pantic: Gabi is truly a warrior in the midfield. I like the way he made some tactical faults which prevented the other team counter attacking us.

  • Will

    There are some news in Brazil reporting that Diego Ribas is heading back to Atlético.
    According to his agent, Cereza is traveling to talk to Wolfsburg to get him by January for a small fee or just to sign the contract for the next season. Wait and see…

    And question: Is there any room for Diego Ribas in the starting 11?

  • Will

    By “Cereza” I swear meant “Enrique Cerezo”. 🙂

  • Jimbo_With_the_Dancingshoes

    well that does only depend on Villa himself IMO if he plays good then no if not then yes plenty of room behind costa, as I see Villa as the weakest of our attacking players. also this would give simeone the change to play his beloved 4-2-3-1

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    @Will & @Jimbo : even if there isn’t a place for Diego Ribas in the starting 11, is that a problem ?!
    when Barca start with their perfect 11, their bench have Cesc, Adriano, Mascherano, Song and Alexis
    and in the Case of Real, they have Modrić & di María on the bench, and in the last few seasons Kaka & Higuain used to set on the bench in many games

    and Both teams didn’t have a problem with that

    so, even if there is no place for Diego in the line-up and the team is doing very well without him and there is a chance to sign him, I can’t see why not
    after all, the only advantage for Real & Barca over us (in sporting side) is their strong -or let me say- “fancy” benches

  • starvs

    totally agree Ahmad, it’s not only a good problem to have, it is a problem Atleti needs to have if it wants to be elite.

    Let me put it another way, you can’t be an elite team and be an injury away from starting Raul Garcia in a Champions League game…

  • kris

    We would need the experience and the creativity from at least one more player for the second half of the season. If nobody else ‘creative’ comes, I see David Villa being dropped and Oliver behind The Beast.

  • layibiyi

    nice article, I admire your Simeone’s ‘focus on next game only’ but still….