The red and white aftermath: Match Day 9

Atlético fall for first time in 2013-14 campaign

The Beast avoids looking at the scoreboard  (clubatleticodemadrid.com)

The Beast avoids looking at the scoreboard
(clubatleticodemadrid.com)

Relax.

It was bound to happen.

At least, that’s likely what many members of the Rojiblanco faithful kept telling themselves when their beloved Atlético’s bid for a perfect season in La Liga (and a chance to take sole possession of first place) was spoiled by Espanyol on Saturday.

Just because it was inevitable didn’t mean it hurt any less for some of us though.

A cheap cop out would have been to attribute the 1-0 defeat to the so-called FIFA virus because of the number of Atleti players that represented their national teams over the past international break.

Simeone’s men very easily could have won this game had things gone their way–and maybe if Arda and Miranda had started in place of Raúl García and debutant Toby Alderweireld.

But that’s being too harsh on the benchwarmers.

Los Rojiblancos, who won the possession battle on the evening, failed to send a single shot between Kiko Casilla’s sticks, though Koke did hit the post following an excellent pass from soulmate Costa.

An unfortunate mistake by an otherwise rock-solid Thibaut Courtois ended up being the difference between the two sides at the Cornellà-El Prat.

And just like that, our historic win streak was snapped. Fortunately, Barça’s was freshly broken up as well.

Ahead of next weekend’s clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Atleti fans might have some soul searching to do.

There’s a chance some of us will find ourselves in quite an unusual predicament: secretly hoping Real Madrid don’t lose on Saturday. A Clásico draw would give us a second opportunity to climb to the top of the league standings.

Yuck! Right? Well…best start getting used to it.

But first, our men head out to Vienna on Tuesday, where they will take on local outfit Austria Wien in our third Champions League match.

Ah…the Champions, now that’s something we can get used to.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone’s 100th match as Atleti coach marred by loss

“It was a gridlocked and tough game,” Atleti boss Diego ‘El Cholo’ Simeone said.

“The first half saw us struggle to get our play going, though defensively we didn’t suffer. We had a chance from Koke that hit the post and another one by Diego Costa that he just narrowly missed.”

The 43-year-old, who featured on the Atlético coaching bench for the 100th time, continued:

“Their goal appeared in the second half and, from there on out, with several changes we went in search of the equaliser that never arrived.

“Losing is part of the game.”

Costa remains Pichichi but suffers injury

Soon-to-maybe-be Spain international Diego Costa held on to his lead at the top of the goalscoring chart of La Liga in spite of failing to find the back of the net against los Periquitos.

A pair of no-names — some Messy(?) dude and a Christian something or other — who have eight goals each, continue to trail the ‘Beast of the Manzanares’, who has struck for 10 in the present league term.

Rojiblanco land was under red alert on Sunday, when Costa was spotted in crutches. The Brazilian completed Saturday night’s clash, but apparently sustained a blow to his ankle.

According to Spanish paper AS, the injury is not too severe and the 25-year-old will travel to Austria on Monday for his Champions League debut.

Cholo comes to ‘El Guaje’s’ defense

“[Villa’s play] was among the best things of the first half,” Cholo blatantly fibbed in his post-game press conference.

Villa’s play was among the worst things of the first half.

The fact of the matter is, David Villa’s presence was of no consequence.

The oft-heard joke about a team playing with one man less because of a severely underperforming player was supported by the numbers when it came to ‘El Guaje’.

The Asturian attacker didn’t take a single shot and had by far the least amount of touches by any of our field players.

His frustration was manifested by a verbal and physical altercation he got into with several Espanyol players that cost him a yellow card.

Villa needs a goal soon to boost his confidence and alleviate some of the pressure on Costa to carry the load on offense.

Other notes:

  • Toby Alderweireld made his first appearance in red and white, appearing in the starting line-up against Espanyol in replacement of the ailing Miranda. The Belgian defender was heavily involved in the action, especially when Cholo went all-out on the attack bringing on Arda, Adrián and Cebolla and removing Raúl, Gabi and Mario. Alderweireld made 12 clearances, blocked 2 shots and was third on the squad in total touches (62). Many assigned Toby partial blame for the goal though, as the former Ajax man let Sergio García slip past him–leading to countryman Courtois’ blunder.
  • Cholo handed plane tickets to Vienna to the following 22 players: Courtois, David Gil, Godín, Filipe Luís, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Giménez, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda (back from injury), Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cebolla, Gabi, Guilavogui, Óliver, Adrián, Villa, Costa.
  • Despite the defeat to Espanyol, Simeone has the best record after 100 games of any coach in Atleti history (64 wins, 19 draws, 17 losses).
  • Believe it or not, Atleti had a better record last season after nine league matches (8 wins, 1 draw).

  • DJ_ZA

    AN OPEN LETTER OF APOLOGY

    Okay, time to ‘fess up…… Didn’t watch the match cause I fell asleep! *gasps of disbelief*.
    So there’s the guilt – but also the relief of only having to endure the sadness of defeat later and not have to watch it play out in front of me.
    My initial excitement when seeing Barca’s result very quickly turned into disappointment when I saw ours.
    How could we have lost to Espanyol?! Oh wait … Time for the next confession *more guilt and gasps of disbelief*

    Obviously I had angered /confused the football gods. Earlier on Saturday I re-confirmed my allegiance to the blue & white – blatantly displaying it on my profile pic.
    “But it was the blue & white hoops ( not stripes) of my fave rugby team” she says remorsefully, but alas too late.
    The football gods had already made their decision.

    So, I regret, I have nothing to say about a performance I did not witness *eyes focussed on the ground in shame*

    So, just to clarify to the football gods, I will ( just 1 last time this year) be blue and white on Saturday. But come Sunday, at 23h00 CAT ( i battled at 10 now i’ve got to stay up an hour later!?!) , there will be no notions of going green ( apologies to environmentalists) i will only be proudly ROJIBLANCO.

    …. and NO, AtleticoFans, I cannot hope for a Merengue victory – when a draw could still see us have our moment in the sun – atop the lofty heights of La Liga

    Yours remorsefully
    DJ _ZA

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    “A Merengue victory would give us a second opportunity to climb to the top of the league standings”
    what about a draw !! .. it will also put us in the top of the table if we won Betis game, and both Real & Braca will drop 2 points each, isn’t that better than a win for Real Madrid ?!
    so, no “Go Cristiano” for me please

    and yeah, Villa is the worst thing in Atleti, we want our 2 million back Barca !!
    we were just talking about that in the match report post, and it looks like that a lot of us agree about that Villa should leave his place for Oliver and have some time on the bench

    and yes, I believe it -and not surprised- that we had a better record last season after 9 league matches, in fact I’ve been waiting since the 4th week (since the media started to count our successive wins) to see if we will get 25 points after 9 games like the last season .. and we didn’t

    “best start of La Liga” .. what does that mean ?! .. and how many games are exactly in the “start” ?!
    if a team won the first 8 games then lost the next 2 games, is that a better start than drawing in the first 2 then wining the next 8 ?!

    I don’t like that obsession with numbers and records from the press and media, and it seems that Simeone doesn’t like it either, you can feel that from his statements

    last season we had more points after 9 games, and if we won next week we will have more points after 10 games than the last season, and if we had less than 34 points after 13 games so we had a better start last season than this one … and go on

    the only number that matters is how many points you have after 38 games, and what position are you on in the table

    I just wanted to talk about this “best start” thing because I think it’s putting an unnecessary pressure on the fans and -maybe- on the players

    let’s not forget our motto : “Partido a Partido”

  • Zakaria

    I totally agree with you Ahmad, the stats and numbers are putting us under pressure and putting the players in fake competitions to break records.

    Villa is not in form, yet I always believe he will get his modjo back very soon, but I still believe that we need more efficient feeding for the strikers from the MF, KOKE and Arda are the only ones capable, yet having Diego Back required.

    I still have a good feeling about our next 2 games, inshallah we will nail both.

    Aupa Atleti

  • Martin Rosenow

    @DJ_ZA @Ahmad You’re absolutely right. I was never good at math. Please find it in your hearts to forgive me. Post updated.

  • GreekRojiblanco(piserakos)

    what about villa’s matter… he is what you say invisible but i dissagree about critisise him at this game. no one passed him(talking about costa mostly he could try to find him and no go on his own) and we hadn’t any moments of attacking football so like falcao did last year at those games he couldn’t help… so i get back to my ‘summer’ words that we didn’t did a striker we had costa we should buy a player like diego and go at 4-5-1 or buy both of them… so we need diego and if villa can’t find hisself until the summer then give him back

  • Kabir

    Our start was not as good last season because we lost to Real Madrid.

  • Karam

    Salam alaikom guys ,, First i agree with you that villa is bad BUT!!! he is bad as a striker ,, I think he will be good at left winger 🙂 .
    Second ,, i disagree with all of you guys that ALDERWIELD is good !! The passing of him was not good and DIEGO COSTA dont know where to stand or go to get his passes ,, AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT THE ESPANYOL GOAL HE IS A VERY BIG BIG BIG PART OF IT !!!! He makes a mistake he shouldn’t so he make COURTIOS get confused and make the mistake to get the ball to our net .. Guys see tha goal again and again and you will see what im talking about ,, Toby he left his forward for a second to go to the winger and this is a mistake from him couse juan he already there and his man “Toby” is more imbortant that to the other ..
    And i want him to get better and better inshallah ..
    But this RG8 is a bad player and sorry for this but this is my opinion .. But the hole team was not focused and looked very tired , Very 🙂
    Aupa Atletico 4 Ever

  • Adnan khan

    I just hope oliver torres starts in the game against austria wien. A start and a game like this will give him a lot of experience. Would love to see him in big role next game 🙂

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    You don’t have to apologize Martin,
    in fact I’m the one who should do, this is the second time in a row I correct you, I hate to do that to my favorite writer on this website and to one of my favorite tweeps
    but I owe that to the readers of this website

    and you should feel safe even that you are bad at math, cause I’m good at it, I have to be, as a pharmacist I deal with numbers every day .. a lot of them
    so you are in good hands 😉