The red and white aftermath: Match Day 20

Colchoneros fail to capitalise on Barca slip-up as Sevilla grab point

Rakitic sevilla atletico madrid

Rakitic equalizes from the spot (MARCA)

With Barcelona surprisingly held to a draw at Levante earlier in the day, the stage was all set for Atlético to move clear at the top of La Liga on Sunday night as they took on Sevilla in the Vicente Calderón.

However, not for the first time this year, they seemingly couldn’t handle the pressure and were left to rue their luck, dropping points for only the second time at home all season as the away side escaped with a 1-1.

This latest round of results has swung the league wide open again, with Real Madrid running riot at Betis to move to within just a point of the top two.

Atleti should’ve won and dominated most of the match, although that isn’t always a good sign. Sevilla came with the clear intention to get a draw, starting with 6 recognised defenders and allowing Simeone’s men possession, but as a counter-attacking team that has often been our undoing.

David Villa emphatically opened the scoring in the first 20 minutes, but instead of opening the floodgates, the red and whites failed to make their superiority count and allowed the away side back in following an individual error from Juanfran.

The point was celebrated like a trophy by the visiting Sevillistas which shows just how much of a gap has opened up between the sides, but has also cast a few doubts in the Atlético camp, with our apparent difficulty to open up and finish teams and reluctance to rotate more often being questioned.

Games are coming thick and fast at the moment and we do have serious chances in three competitions, but if Simeone continues insisting to play the strongest team in every match, repetition of results such as this can be expected.

We do now have a few days to get the result out of our system, but are back in action as soon as Thursday with a cup quarter-final to contend with, Athletic Bilbao our opponents in the Calderón.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Chance missed to move top of La Liga

Four times this season we have drop points and on three of those occasions, a win would have taken us top. Is the pressure of leading the table at this stage too much for the Rojiblancos?

Simeone continues to tell the press that he is not thinking of winning the league title, but given our position and recent results, the complacency and lack of authority shown by his team on Sunday must have been frustrating.

The Argentine boss cut an unusually forlorn figure in his post-match press conference, but didn’t give away what we would assume to be his true feelings on the match and the result, making an abrupt exit.

“The game was how we imagine beforehand, with lots of hard work and fight,” he asserted.

“If you analyse the point, it is useful as it keeps us at the top and can be taken into the next game, it serves us to keep fighting. If you don’t get three points you should at least try for one.”

For just how long can we keep up with the super powers of Real Madrid and Barcelona?

Will we pay for not rotating in the long run?

Filipe Luís has already suggested that doing so would be a challenge, but rebuffed claims that the team needed rest.

“We had a good chance to go top, but there is still a long way to go,” he said.

“We know that we are a target now, but competing with teams who can put €50m players on their bench such as Barcelona and Real Madrid is very difficult

“Physically the team is fine, as seen against Barcelona or in the other games since Christmas. Maintaining this level will cost us, but the team is trained to compete to the maximum.” he finished.

Should we progress to the latter stages in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League, matches twice a week can be expected right up until May, and at this stage it is already evident that it’s taking it’s toll.

Diego Costa in particular has looked a shadow of the player we witnessed up until new year, and the likes of Koke, Arda and a few of the defenders look as if they too could benefit from a few games off.

Raúl García denied penalty

At 1-0, referee Hernández Hernández opted not to whistle when Sevilla left-back Alberto Moreno clearly tugged down Raúl García in the box, a decision that changed the outcome of the game.

Shortly after, he correctly awarded the away side a penalty when Juanfran upended Carlos Bacca, but once again the lack of consistency in officiating proved to be costly.

“Their penalty was the correct decision. On both occasions the referee gave what he saw, and if you don’t see something then you can’t award it.” commented Simeone.

 Other notes:

  • David Villa ended his 7 game goalless run with the opening goal, although Diego Costa‘s barren spell now stands at 5 matches. The Brazilian turned Spaniard is yet to find the net in 2014.
  • Sevilla’s penalty was the first we have conceded in La Liga since April 2012, when Cristiano Ronaldo converted in the Madrid derby 63 games ago. Courtois is still yet to save a spot-kick in red and white, having faced eight in total.
  • Juanfran saw yellow for giving away the controversial penalty, which means he will now miss next Sunday’s trip to Rayo Vallecano through suspension.
  • José Sosa‘s late sub appearance marked his first league appearance for Atlético, following on from his debut in midweek against Valencia. The Argentine had little imapact, but already seems to be above Adrián in the pecking order.
  • Mario Suarez returned to full training this morning following nearly three months out with a knee injury. His last appearance came in October away to Granada.
  • 51 points is the lowest total for a league leader after 20 matchdays since 2007-08, before Pep Guardiola arrived at Barcelona and upgraded the competition. As Filipe suggested, many more points will be won and lost before May.
  • It’s now 5 games since Óliver Torres was last involved, the 19 year-old was called-up but failed to make the bench yet again. Cause for concern?
  • We may not have won, but our unbeaten run now stretches to 19 matches. Last season’s club record run of 23 could be in sight.

  • Jeronamo

    I want to see our players rotated smartly. More Oli please

  • Palantine

    We don’t see the Koke>Costa combination that worked so well in the first half of the season much anymore. Against Sevilla, Koke was often 30 to 40 meters away from our attacking forwards and the team relied a lot on very long passes. There was a clear split between our line of defenders + defensive midfielders and the rest, Sevilla also parked that zone of the pitch with as many players as possible which was pretty smart.

    I understand that there was really no choice with Tiago being out, but I think Koke needs to play a bit higher up in the pitch.

    This second half of the season is going to be hard but I trust the players and Simeone, they’ve outdone themselves so many times this season, it’s just a beauty to witness.

  • piserakos

    @Billy Edward…. my friend I have a blog (Griegos Rojiblancos) and it’s talking about Atleti on Greek. Like this page (well I took the idea from you) I make an aftermatch report. Damn, I wrote it today morning and it’s the same (almost)… I’m sure we had the same advisers… Yes I’m talking about you guys and your comments here:)
    Anyway great article…..
    No reason to worry vamos Atleti

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    come on guys .. a bad performance, a bitter draw at The Calderon, wasting a chance to be the leaders for the first time since 1995-96 .. and no Martin Rosenow !
    I mean Billy is a good writer, and actually me and him chat a lot on twitter, but the “aftermath” is Martin’s speciality !

    There is something I want to talk about :
    Many of you talked after the game about Simeone’s mistakes in the substitutions, and how he didn’t use them wisely to correct our bad performance

    Well, I don’t think he made any mistake in the subs from the beginning of the season, I think he doesn’t believe in substitutions at all !

    You know how I love numbers and statistics, so there are some numbers to prove my point :

    we played 32 games so far this season in all competitions,
    in 10 games of them (more than 30%), he didn’t use the all 3 subs he is allowed to :
    in 9 games, he made only 2 subs, against :
    Athletic, Villareal, Elche, Valencia (Liga), Sant Andreu (Home), Levante, Barcelona (Liga), Valencia (Copa, Home) & Sevilla (Home)
    while in the 10th game, he only made 1 sub, remember which one ?!
    Zenit away game, when we were already qualified to UCL knock-out stage !
    and it was Oliver for Cebolla .. in min. 80 !!

    and speaking of the time of the subs, here is another statistic :
    in 11 games of the 32, the first sub came after min. 70
    in fact, in 5 games of those 11, the first sub came after min. 80

    Of course, despite these numbers, we are co-leaders with 51 points out of 60, still alive in the cup & UCL
    and whatever we do, we can never thank him enough

    and of course, keeping the “skeleton” of the team is very important, and it’s one of the secretes of our success

    and also of course, Simeone doesn’t have that strong bench that other “so-called” great coaches have, like Mourinho, Pelligrini, Pep, Ancelotti & Tata

    But still there are two important points we must be concerned about :

    1- Those benched players are not here for free, we pay them money .. a lot of money
    so, if he is not convinced with them, he should let them go, selling or loaning
    the screaming example of those is Cebolla, who plays regularly for Uruguay, the forth of World Cup 2010, and Champions of Copa America 2011, but with Atleti, he only played 461 minutes this season, out of 2880 possible
    play him .. or sell him

    2-The experience is gotten by playing, and not just 10 minutes every 3 or 4 games, but with real time of play, with complete chance, especially for our Academy products, as we can’t buy super stars, but the whole world know that we can make them .. a lot of them
    and we all know for a fact that El Cholo is here to build a project, not like Mourinho with Real Madrid, where he came to make a personal glory so he bought a lot of players and totally ignored the “Castilla” players

    Can’t Simeone make only 1 change on his starting XI in some easy games, like those at home against Rayo, Valladolid, Almeria, Elche, Celta ..
    what could go wrong if he started with only 1 change, like Toby for Miranda, or Manquillo for Jaunfran, or Josuha for Tiago or Oliver for Villa ?!

    Simeone said himself that he sat with Koke in 2012-13 preseason, after Diego Ribas has left, and said to him “you will take Diego’s place, I trust you”
    That time, Koke was just a kid with no experience .. it was a gamble, and it succeeded

    So, what have changed ?!
    why doesn’t he make the same thing with Oli and Manqui ?!
    Is he lying to us ?!
    Is he pretending to go “Partido a Partido” and keep complaining about the huge financial difference between us and the “big two” and never consider us a candidate for the title, while he is really thinking of wining La Liga, and -maybe- the champions league ?!
    and if he is thinking of that, is that a good thing or bad thing ?!
    can any team compete for 3 difficult titles in a very long season with just 14 players?!
    actually, -also by numbers- we have only 12 players
    the starting XI (with Tiago instead of the injured Mario) + RG8 have played 75% of all the minutes so far this season

    while the other 11 played 25 % .. including 180 minuets for Aranzubia, the 2nd goalkeeper who is probably leaving at the end of the season

    from 2880 minutes, here is how many did the subs. played :
    Adrian (942), Toby (816), Oliver (504), Insua (494), Cebolla (461), Manquillo (360)
    Leo (310) Guilavogui (286) & Gimenez (180)

    So, the big question is :
    Can our 12 players keep playing at the same level in this more difficult half of the season, or will we repeat the 2nd half of the last season, when we were 2nd on La Liga table for 25 weeks, then we only sealed the 3rd place (the last one that directly qualify to UCL group stage) just 4 weeks before the end, and we were worried that Real Sociedad could take it from us ?!

  • kris

    I am not enjoying the way that Simeone isn’t using his subs. For a game like Seville who played against us almost the same way as we did against Barca, he didn’t use probably the third strongest player of out team Guilavogui and decided to use Koke, not physically fitted to be a dm to play in that position and played RG8 in a position which he clearly doesn’t know how to play in. He’s not giving other players the trust they deserve and we should as Atleti fans question this. We have to question this. In the beginning, it was okay as the players wouldn’t have been so tired but now it’s not okay. Like Ahmad pointed out, we have Cebolla who is a regular for the Uruguyan national team who hardly gets any minutes. The guy is good at link up plays from the wings when he has the space. El Cholo doesn’t sub him in when he should have and against a team like Sevilla parking the bus he decided to use him. That game was perfect for Oli as he could have given us those over the top thru balls in which Villa and Costa both were craving for, but got the way wrong crosses. I said this before and saying it again. Don’t use RG8 as a winger please… He’s a complete disaster. Either start him or Villa not both at the same time.. So mad Guilavogui was unfavored in a game where he should have most played but oh well… Why am I complaining?

    Good news. The great Suarez is going to be playing for us real soon. No, not that!! Mario is back bitches!!!

  • pantic#10

    Mario is back! yeah.
    Mario will play like a tiger, he wants to go to Brasil 2014.
    so Guilavogui is the 4th choice right now, after Gabi, Tiago and Mario.

    We’ll agree about subs 😉
    Cholo should have used him more than he did…
    Insua, 1 year with us…and only a few minutes here and there.
    Cebolla, Amhad said everything should have been said.
    late subs: we already complained about it in the previous season, it’s probably Cholo’s weak point.

    Now we have (almost) 3 matches every week till the end of the season, if everything goes like we wish!
    We need helps from subs, please Cholo use them.they are all good players, that could play as starters in many many teams.

  • Urban

    Basically everything about not using the subs has already been said here, there is only one point more I wanted to stress:

    – when Cholo used the subs except for Adrian they heve never really disappointed (maybe Oli once or twice but he is super young). It must be super frustrating to Josh and Macklemore to play so good when given a chance only to be benched for the next games…

  • pantic#10

    i was thinking…Macklemore who? then…google helped me…
    that’s Toby…hahah

  • piserakos

    hahaha same with you Pantic!!
    guys it’s mentioned 100 times. 1) Cholo allways does the subs late, it is his weak point. He admited many times that he is afraid to change things cause they maybe hurt the team. I’m sure Cholo is thinking about La Liga from the 1st day of the season it’s obvius, we’ve allready secured (not mathematicaly) the 3rd place so why don’t he rotate and give the players an opportunity?
    2) RG8 shouldn’t play as a winger he is a dissaster, the only reason I could accept it is playing with 3 strikers at dying moments when we are back at the scor. RG8 should be the back-up of Villa or Costa
    something it’s not really mentioned. Cebolla is the best player we have when we want to run, Cholo should use him when we want to strike at the counter attacks (against Sevilla at the second half) but when we are trying to open our opponents’ defence Adrian and of course Oli are way better, they are more creative players.

  • kris

    Klopp alsp doesn’t sub as much. This will hurt his starters, he has to sub.