The red and white aftermath: Match Day 15

Atleti stay close on Barcelona's trail with convincing win at Elche

Atleti come out of Elche victorious (AFP)

Atleti come out of Elche victorious (AFP)

Atlético were able to best Elche 2-0 after a fiercely contested first half in which the scrappy hosts matched Simeone’s men in guts and intensity at the Estadio Martínez Valero.

Second half goals by the Colchoneros’ dynamic duo of Koke and Diego Costa were enough to put out Fran Escribá’s charges’ fire.

The introduction of Raúl García after an hour of play and, a little later, Adrián, proved a winning formula for the visitors, as the pair of substitutes had an immediate impact on the outcome of the encounter.

Saturday’s triumph temporarily placed Atleti at the top of the table, even with Barcelona at 40 points each.

But, the Blaugrana will have a chance to retake their lead when they face Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Atlético will now gear up for their Copa del Rey title defense, which begins in Barcelona at the home of Segunda División B outfit UE Sant Andreu next Saturday.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone: “It’s a great time to be an Atlético Madrid fan”

“We came out really well in the first half, but minutes before getting to the break we couldn’t find any clear chances to cause them damage, while they put together two or three dangerous counterattacks,” Rojiblanco don Diego Simeone explained in his post-game press conference.

“We spoke to the players in the dressing room, and we tried to explain that we had to play the match from the flanks more.

“We needed to create more danger on the wings. That’s how the game played out until Raúl García and Adrián’s entries offered us two strokes of brilliance at an important moment.”

‘Cholo’ continued: “It has been an important victory against a tough opponent with crucial team work.

“We’re realists about our present. We know that we rely on a huge effort by the entire team. I know it’s a great time to be an Atlético Madrid fan, but we have to isolate ourselves from that.

“Our only reality is our next match.”

Koke helps himself to a goal

Normally assuming the role of provider for his teammates, Atleti midfielder and Spain’s joint-leader in assists Koke drew first blood on Saturday when he tapped in a rebounded effort by Raúl García in the 63rd minute.

Jorge Resurrección Merodio (translation: ‘Georgie Resurrection Fothermucker’) now has three goals and nine assists in all competitions in the current campaign.

“We knew that it would be a very tough match because they were going to push us to our limits on this pitch,” the future of Spain said.

“We were conscious that we were going to have to open up the field, and that we would have to take advantage of our chances. But, we have strength up top, and we were able to get two goals that have helped us achieve the victory.”

Koke continued: “We always keep our feet on the ground, only thinking about our own results, staying on track, and we take on every game as if it were a final. We have to keep it up and, hopefully, when there are five matches left, we continue this way.”

One goal per league game for Costa

With his strike on Saturday, Diego Costa kept his pace of one-goal-per-match in La Liga in the present term. The ‘Beast of the Manzanares’ now has 15 in 15 Primera clashes, and 18 in 19 official games this season.

Costa was able to close in on Cristiano Ronaldo’s lead in the Pichichi standings, but he remains in second place. The Real Madrid striker, with 17 goals in La Liga, sat out over the weekend in order to nurse an injury.

The thing is, Cristiano has needed 111 shots (or 7.9 per game) to get to his 17 goal total (5 of them coming from penalty kicks). Costa, on the other hand, has only needed 47 shots (or 3.1 per game) to bag 15 (2 of them from the spot).

There is a category that, as of Saturday, Costa does lead though: fouls drawn. That’s right. Not committed–drawn. The Brazilian has been fouled 51 times, more than anyone else in all of Europe’s top leagues.

The Beast has seen a grand total of 2 yellow cards in 15 league appearances (14 as a starter) this season.

Godín hits century mark with Atleti, praises team-wide effort in shutout

Uruguayan central defender Diego Godín celebrated his 100th Primera División bout in red and white by taking part in yet another Atleti shutout.

“Everything we do shows the hunger and ambition of this club and the squad,” the 27-year-old said afterwards.

“We’re doing things well with a lot of a ambition and a lot of desire.”

He continued: “Last year, we won the Zamora. It’s satisfying for everyone because it’s the effort of the whole team. Apart from working well at the back, you see how much Costa, Villa, Adrián or Raúl run and all the scoring they’re doing, and it’s incredible.

“We never lack intensity and attitude in any game. We can play football better or worse, because we have an opponent in front of us that makes things hard, but the team is impeccable in sacrifice and intensity, and that allows us to prevent the other team’s attack from creating chances, and to leave Thibaut with practically no work to do.”

The revival of Adrián?

For the third straight match, Adrián has made a meaningful contribution to the final score. Following back-to-back goal-scoring performances — one in La Liga last weekend and another in Champions League play at the midweek — ‘Adri’ delivered a wonderful assist after coming on for Arda at the 70th minute mark, his second this season.

The pass, an exquisitely executed floater into the running path of Costa, harked back to the days of the forward’s sublime form in the 2011-12 campaign.

Has the Asturian finally made his long-awaited return?

Other notes:

  • David Villa, who came into the game red hot (six goals in his previous five appearances), was ice cold in Alicante Saturday. The former Barça man, rested for our recent trip to St. Petersburg, only managed 16 touches against Elche. Replacement Raúl García, in less than half that time, tallied 20 touches, immediately producing a spark when he stepped in after 62 minutes.
  • Thibaut Courtois experienced a mixed bag of a week — a comical blunder at Zenit in Champions League play cost us a victory, while ‘thibauting’ was nominated for Belgian sports word of the year. But, the superstar goalkeeper bounced back to secure his tenth shutout on the term on Saturday (seventh in La Liga). Note: AtléticoFans expects every man, woman and child that supports the red and white cause to do their duty and vote for thibauting here. If they don’t, Costa and Cholo will hunt them down.
  • Koke and Filipe Luís joined Arda, Gabi and Raúl García on the soon-to-be-suspended list. All five players have seen four yellows this season.
  • Former Deportivo man (which is a little hard to believe now) Filipe took part in his 150th game with Atleti (108 in La Liga; 13 in Copa del Rey; 2 in Spanish Super Cup; 4 in Champions League; 22 in Europa League; and 1 UEFA Super Cup).
  • Elche’s top performer on the afternoon was defensive midfielder and Atleti youth academy product Rubén Pérez, on a one-year loan at the club from Atlético. With regard to whether he felt he made a good impression on his boyhood club, the 24-year-old said: “I’ve played against Atleti four times now, and I take it as just one more game. I have nothing to prove. They know how I play.”
  • Only last season’s Barcelona side (and with a win on Sunday this season’s Barcelona side) have achieved more points than Atlético’s current total of 40 after the first 15 games of a Liga campaign, Pedro Martin reports. Mr. Martin also points out that Real Madrid have never reached 40 points as quickly as we have.

  • Fothermucker? LOL I felt there was an error in the translation 😛 jk jk.
    Umm we were terrible in the first half.. but a victory none the less (Y). We shall go far this season 🙂

  • Adnan Khan

    is anyone watching the athletic-barca game? Bilbao is putting up a good fight. 1-0 to bilbao. 😀

  • Pantic#10

    Barca is losing 🙂 and we’re at the top of La Liga (with barca)

  • kris

    As Atletico fans, let’s all be thankful to Athletic for this win of their’s. This is great for us..

  • Adnan Khan

    Athletic did well. they played just like we played against barca in the super cup. so the others teams are learning from atletico i see 😉

  • kris

    LOL Yup. Simeone is tha man. They created more chances though, Barcelona were totally outplayed by Athletic. Loved the fact that Athletic players didn’t stop running, Valverde is doing good. We have five great teams in Spain now who will fight till the end. Athletic, Atletico, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Villarreal. This is actually pretty good for La Liga, if only other clubs can also replicate what Athletic did today and play like bosses against the ‘Big Two’, La Liga will be much more fun to watch for everyone.

  • Will

    Kris is completely right. It’s an incredible job Atlético, Villareal and Athletic are doing.
    But LFP needs to do something. Barcelona and Madrid have together a similar budget of all the rest club of first and second division summed up.
    I really love Atlético and living this historical moment is amazing but La Liga really lacks fun. 🙁

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    of course it’s a great time to be an Atlético Madrid fan, thanks to you Cholo

    but despite that, I still have a stomach ache every summer & every winter when the transfer window opens and the rumors about our stars leaving the club start to flow

    this time my stomach ache is caused by the rumors of Koke going to Man Utd
    I hope that it’s just a P.S from the tabloid newspapers in England

    And once again, Congratulations Martin, I just voted for “Thibauting” and I wish all Atleti fans vote for it
    and even if it didn’t win and make it to the Duch dictionary, it will stay in Atleti dictionary for ever

    Since the start of the season, when I saw the table and knew that the last game in the both halves of La Liga is vs Barca I was worried about the suspensions, because since the last season we used to get a lot of them, even for the strikers Costa & Falcao

    imagine playing against Barca without Koke, Filipe, Arda, Gabi, Raúl García !!
    Simeone and the players should deal smartly with situation .. and who is smarter than El Cholo
    Juanfran had a similar situation in the CL and he got a yellow card vs Zenit so he will start the knock-out stage with a clean record

    Thank you Athletic for this precious gift, I wish we get benefit from it ..
    maybe in the next round when Messi-dependent Barca face Villareal without Messi !
    although we have a very tough game too vs Valencia

    Finally, the next to games are against Sant Andreu in the Cup & Porto in the CL,
    Señor Simeone : por favor, por favor, por favor .. we want to see Oliver in the whole 180 minutes in these 2 games !!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    off topic (or maybe not) :
    Atletico B are still suffering in Segunda B,
    today they had their 9th defeat in 16 games after Huesca thrashed them 4-1
    now we are the 15th on the table, just one position and 2 goals away from relegation zone

    the goal of the team this season was to promote to Segunda ..
    so we are very very away from that goal !!!

    and if there are Dutch or Belgian people here, I’m sorry for them, I misspelled the word “Dutch” in my previous comment .. it was just a typing error

    also I wrote “to” instead of “two” .. maybe I should stick with “2” in numbers 🙂

  • Dircil

    I’m not surprised when Barca losing against Bilbao. They’re not supposed to be unbeatable for the whole season and what is more important is they were playing without the presence of Messi. We’re about to enter one of the toughest period of the season in which we have to face up to the density of matches ahead (Liga + Copa + CL). With that bearing in mind, I just wonder how Simeone manages to perform better that what we did last season as everybody know that we were kinda lagging behind Real and Barca in the 2nd half of the season.

  • Arjit

    I think we will do much better this year Dircil. Of course we think game by game as is the cholo way. However, I think our squad is much better overall this year! For defence we have Manquillo, Toby (who also plays as RB for Belgium), Insua. Central midfield we have Joshua and Mario should be back for the January rush. Attacking mid is our only area where we are short on cover but then again, RG8 plays great behind a MAIN striker and lets not forget oliver! I also suspect there may be a signing made for this position (which would complete this team). And finally my favorite part: WE HAVE OLD ADRIAN BACK and also a returning Leo Baptistao from injury by that time also (he can be a game changer with a bit more confidence and game time imo). So compared to this time last year, we’re much better equipped to survive and conquer. I can’t think of the last time Atleti’s bench was this good.

  • pantic#10

    The only reason why a current Atleti player could change shirt in the transfer market is only because he (and we) can’t control the situation (see third parties as Falcao).
    There’s no reason to go in another big team (unless you’re gready, but our player aren’t).
    They know that something big (CL or La Liga) could happen this year or next.
    We have a project until 2017 (and beyond obviously i hope) with Simeone.
    I have high expectations for the winter transfer session…but not for big names, but for useful players and down to earth like Juanfran, RG8, Gabi, Tiago, Miranda….
    at the moment everyone want join Atletico and no one wanna leave 🙂

  • piserakos

    I won’t really talk about the match (great win, we didn’t played our best game but we win e.t.c)
    Now we have a ‘break’. We play again Sant-Adreau at Saturday and against Porto at Wednesday. I think we shout use 2 different line-ups (against Porto a stronger one) and let everyone play and our starters to get warm-up for the game against Valencia. Barca lost and we are with them(hehe thank you Munain I won some money from you). We can win La Liga, everybody knows that. We will? I don’t know, no one does. I bet that last game at Camp Nou that would be awesome. Any way. Courtois just won the trophy of the best gk at La Liga. Barca plays against Villareal. It will be hard and if they lose points at this game damn, Catalonia will be on crisis. Does anyone knows why there is La Liga break this weak? This sacks!