Atlético soundly defeated Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, shutting out their Basque foes 2-0 for their sixth straight win at the Vicente Calderón.
Defended by 52,000 strong for this ‘Fan Club Day’ encounter, ‘Cholo Castle’ remains unconquered in the 2013/14 campaign.
There once was a time when this piece served as a group therapy session–a place where we could all come together to vent our frustrations as we watched our guys blow countless opportunities to challenge for, at best, a fourth place spot in La Liga.
Where did all the drama go?
On behalf of the staff here at AtléticoFans headquarters, we’d like to apologise for the predictability of the content below: Cholo, keeping his cool after yet another win; Costa, adding another goal to his tally; Koke, picking up another assist.
You get the picture. There’s really no sense in reading any further.
Oh, but you love us so? Well, carry on then.
Atleti will vie to remain flawless in Champions League group play when they host Austria Vienna on Wednesday. Then, it’s off to Villarreal for a tough away clash at the Madrigal next weekend, where a warm welcome back is not expected given the outcome of our last visit to the ‘Yellow Submarine’s’ stadium.
“Another win Atlético. Well done.” – Tomáš Ujfaluši (via Twitter)
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone loves you, fellow Rojiblanco
Remarkably, almost half of Diego Simeone’s games in charge at Atleti have ended in a shutout in our favour (50 of 104). The Argentine tactician’s men completely stymied los Leones’ attack on the evening, holding their opponents to zero shots on target en route to the three points.
“We’re living this moment with hope and joy, and to compete where we are fills us with pride and, above all else, it makes us happy to see so many Atlético Madrid fans on the streets,” ‘Cholo’ said in his post-game press conference.
Simeone was asked why he hasn’t been relying on too many backups lately.
“The team is well,” the 43-year-old responded. “The group is strong and it’s a tough decision to leave someone out each game.
“Guilavogui is training really well. Insúa has been asking for his chance for a long time. Toby [Alderweireld] performed well in the minutes he disputed. Adrián comes in and out with Raúl.”
He continued: “I care about not breaking this structure of work that we have internally, because that’s how we’ll keep ourselves where we are. This is the only way to sustain ourselves; concentrating on the next match and nothing else.”
Villa catching fire
David Villa has seemingly stumbled upon a fountain of youth (Neptuno?). The 31-year-old looked like ‘El Guaje’ (“The Kid”) of yore as he athletically soared through the air to instinctively scissor-kick a floater inside the box that zipped past a dumbfounded Gorka Iraizoz.
The former Barcelona man now has four goals in our last three games, bringing his total in La Liga up to six in the present term (seven overall).
His partnership with Diego Costa became the most lethal in Spain. The pair surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo and Benzema, who have combined for 18 of Real Madrid’s league goals. Villa and Costa have 19 together.
The Asturian forward hadn’t scored in three straight league fixtures since February of 2011, Pedro Martin reported.
Costa stays hot
“Diego [Costa] is incredible in every sense, beyond the great goal he scored, the great dribble, good movement and great shot,” Simeone said of his star striker.
“He’s growing a lot in terms of providing support, in his participation in ball recovery and in his connection with the team. That helps the team play better. He’s at an age in which he has time to improve and, hopefully, we can watch that happen here.”
15 goals in 15 games hardly offers much room for improvement Cholo! I’m sorry boss. Please don’t hurt me.
Costa’s red hot form didn’t come out of nowhere. The 25-year-old has hammered in 28 goals in his last 35 games in red and white dating back to last season.
It’s surreal that the Brazilian-born forward’s numbers are even better than his predecessor Falcao’s at the forefront of Atleti’s attack.
Costa moved into a first-place tie with Cristiano in the Pichichi race, but our ‘Beast’ has achieved that total with only 43 shots, while ‘Captain Boys’ Underwear‘ has needed more than double — 94, to be exact — to get to that sum.
Koke: “We’ve got dynamite up top”
If, as Koke told reporters on Sunday, his team has “dynamite up top”, then our gifted young playmaker is guilty of lighting the fuse.
The 21-year-old nabbed his eighth assist on the year in official play, and seventh in Primera División action–placing him in a first-place tie with Neymar in that department.
According to Opta Sports, no player in La Liga has more “intentional assists” than Koke, who has 15 over the past two years.
- Atleti haven’t conceded a single goal within the first 30 minutes of any of their 12 league games this season.
- “The best way to let him grow is to give him opportunities and minutes,” Cholo said about Adrián, to whom he handed a second straight start. “He’s a difference maker. The first goal came about off a wall pass he made within a small space. That’s how we were able to break open the match and that’s what we look for with Adrián. We trust and believe in him.” Team-mate Koke also added his two cents on the subject of our once ‘Perfect 7’: “We’ve got to all help him out together. The other day he played very well and today, he was spectacular. He’d be our best signing if he becomes the player he was before. The fans cheered loudly for him and I’m sure he went home happy.“
- Thibaut Courtois’ streak of clean sheets was snapped at three (almost four) games in Granada this past Thursday, when the local side put one past the Belgian in stoppage time. Thibaut earned a cheap one on Sunday though, as Jiminy Cricket lying down in front of goal would have done just as well, given that Bilbao didn’t put a single shot on target. Courtois now has five shutouts in league play this season, and seven in all competitions.
- Filipe Luís will miss out on our trip to Villarreal next weekend through suspension (red card against Granada).
- I miss Arda.