The red and white aftermath: Match Day 24

Atleti cruise to victory after a very fast start against Valladolid

Raúl García celebrates early goal with teammates  (clubatleticodemadrid.com)

Raúl García celebrates early goal with teammates
(clubatleticodemadrid.com)

So much for a crisis.

It took all of four minutes on Saturday for Atlético to puncture a pair of mortal wounds into Valladolid at the Vicente Calderón.

Los Rojiblancos then sat back and watched as their opponents bled out for most of the evening before delivering the final death blow–thereby snapping an ugly streak of three goalless losses.

In spite of the critically important 3-0 victory over the Pucela, one can’t help but feel that perhaps Atleti could’ve done a little more damage.

With the quest for the league crown a three-horse race between Diego Simeone’s band of upstarts and Spain’s privileged class — Real Madrid and Barcelona — a higher goal differential may come in handy when it’s all said and done.

Head-to-head records are the primary tiebreaker though.

It’s possible that Atlético took their foot off the gas — letting their visitors hold onto the ball for large swaths of the game — in order to avoid any injuries ahead of their upcoming trip to the San Siro on Wednesday.

Atleti players have been dropping like flies lately, so the approach may prove wise in the end.

With the three points, we momentarily staked our claim to the Primera División’s top spot once again–that was, until Barcelona absolutely annihilated Rayo 6-0 at the Camp Nou hours later.

Let’s hope that at least a Cristiano-less Real Madrid will stumble in Getafe at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez on Sunday.

Our midweek Champions League quest to Italy will be followed up by a trip to Pamplona to take on Osasuna on Sunday the 23rd.

Post-game notes and quotes:

Simeone pleased with his squad’s management of the game

“We began the match with so much intensity, with our lines very close together, with good pressure on lost balls and with a great attacking ability in search of the win,” ‘El Cholo’ told media outlets stationed within the Calderón’s press room.

“The plays that opened up the game came about immediately, and that contributed to the match slowing down a bit, to my liking. The second half was managed in a better way, and we settled into a very lovely situation–which is, having 60 points in the Spanish league.”

He continued: “What I liked most was the intensity with which the team came out.”

Some of Simeone’s men have been returning to action after recovering from their respective knocks.

“It makes us happy that Mario, little-by-little, is recovering,” he said.

“He went from less to more, and that’s good. David [Villa] came in for 20 minutes, which is only a little bit of time, but he was able to move around.

“The good thing is that they’re all there competing, and we only have Filipe and Manquillo out,” he said, forgetting to mention Tiago and the Portuguese midfielder’s expected two-month stint on the sidelines.

“Filipe could be available for Osasuna, we’ll see.”

Raúl adds goal and assist to his account, reportedly agrees to extension through 2018

Raúl García continues to marvel. The Pamplona-born attacker, who is known for delivering the goods so long as his name appears in Cholo’s starting line-up (‘He Starts, He Scores!’), notched a goal and an assist within the first five minutes of Saturday’s proceedings.

The long-time Colchonero scapegoat has, against all the odds, firmly established himself as a club icon–surpassing David Villa’s overall goal total (13) on the campaign by picking up his 14th overall and 7th in La Liga.

On top of his impressive goal tally, the 27-year-old now has 5 assists in all competitions in the present term.

Raúl’s wonderful strike broke a streak of 89 Atlético goals scored inside the box, Pedro Martin of COPE pointed out.

According to Radio MARCA, García could be putting pen to paper on a contract extension as soon as Sunday, which would keep him tied to ‘Cholo Castle’ through 2018.

His current deal expires in 2015.

Costa now one goal shy of Cristiano

Diego Costa delightfully chipped Valladolid ‘keeper Diego Mariño after receiving a fantastic pass from Raúl in the fourth minute to bag his 21st goal in league play (26th overall).

Costa closed in on Cristiano Ronaldo’s Liga-leading total of 22, and given the Real striker’s suspension, he’ll have a chance to catch up to him next weekend in the race for the Pichichi trophy.

“There was no crisis,” the ‘Beast of the Manzanares’ told reporters afterwards.

“People doubted after the three losses but, those of us inside the dressing room didn’t.”

As to his chances of picking up the accolade for highest scorer in Primera, Costa said: “Both Cristiano and Messi will fight for it. My only plan is to try to score goals and help the team.”

Godín celebrates birthday and 200th match in Primera with a goal

At a club where success is virtually guaranteed if you go by the name of Diego, Diego Godín is no exception.

The Uruguayan central defender capped off the night by scoring our third goal in the 74th minute–out-jumping Stefan Mitrović following a corner by one of his many namesakes, Diego Ribas.

Godín now has five goals in the present term, his best single-season total since arriving in Spain for the 2007-08 campaign.

The Uruguay international surprisingly led the squad with three shots on target for this clash. A fourth shot, this one a wayward one, came about after the 28-year-old had bombed forward like a legitimate striker!

Does Godín get enough recognition for all his contributions, both, defensively and offensively at Atleti?

Who wants to lead the fan club?

Other notes:

  • Atleti’s opening strike was the result of a flawlessly executed free kick play straight from Cholo’s chalkboard, which earned Gabi his 10th assist of the season– a total amounting to more than our Capi’s previous two seasons combined (2012-13: 4; 2011-12: 5).
  • Diego, as had been widely reported during the week, was given a break at the start of the encounter. The Brazilian eventually replaced Raúl García in the 64th minute, and later went on to bag his first assist since his previous stint in red and white by delivering the corner headed home by Godín. It was his 10th overall assist with Atleti. “We won the Europa League with Diego and had an extraordinary second half [of the season]. But now, what happens is that there is a very competitive team. Raúl scored, Villa’s here now that he has returned, then there’s Koke, a regular, and Arda. This is good because of the competition between them, as it gives us more chances and more characteristics to compensate for different ways of attacking. His arrival is very good to help the team remain being a team,” Simeone said.
  • Thibaut Courtois easily added his 17th clean sheet of the term to his collection (12th in La Liga), without recording a save. The Belgian’s goals against average remains a league low 0.61, and while his phenomenal goalkeeping abilities are undeniable, he is heavily aided by his defence. Atleti’s back line give up the least amount of shots on goal (57 total).
  • Given that Atlético were shown no bookings on Saturday, for a third straight weekend their players on four-yellow cards are: Filipe, Miranda, Diego Godín, Arda, Tiago and Costa.

  • farhan

    lets show milan what we are… beat em down in san siro….
    and it is good tha before ucl starting 11 are recovering. from injury…..
    i bet villa make the diffrence….
    maravilla…aupa atleti…

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I remember commenting last season :
    “if there is a vote for Atleti best player of the season, my vote will definitely go to Miranda”

    well, this season it will go to Godin

    People who know me personally used to say to me : “you are different”
    and I am
    and the recognition of the defenders and the midfielders and voting for them over strikers in most of the polls on the internet is an example

    I am sick of giving all the credit to the players who score the goals and forgetting everybody else
    and this is actually a new phenomenon, and I believe Messi and Ronaldo are responsible for it
    if you recall, I talked about this before, and I said :
    when Atleti won the double 96, the picture MARCA chose to put on its cover was Diego Simeone
    not a striker, but a midfielder, and not even an attacking one, but he was the most important player at that team, for people who really understand football

    at that time, there was real football, real journalism and real fans

    so Martin, I’m the first one to announce my running for Godin’s fan club presidency!

  • farhan

    @ ahmad ..i agree with u bro … in every victory each and every player contibutes… not only the goal scorers…

  • AndersAT

    I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion the most important part of a team is the defense. Especially in the last couple of years, our strong defense has made the difference. Don’t get me wrong our attack is good, but we still have problems scoring against teams playing ultra defensive (like almeria)

    In my opinion though, Gabi is one of the best players this season. Great in defense and also lining up some good assists.

  • Kris

    Damn what I’m worried about us the players that are on four yellow cards, we don’t want to miss them in Pamplona and we don’t want to miss them against Real. Does Cholo have this all figured out??

  • piserakos

    Ahmad I agree with you mate… I remember me arguing with soomeone who told me that Godin is our weak spot… He is our MVP of 2014… And not only he was great all that year. Miranda did some mistakes but he was great… Now Milan!! By the way.
    Costa’s goal was the first with shot out of the box this year, even thought it was at 1-vs-1 situation

  • Jeronamo

    Well our defence is going to be important when it comes to CL play because of the home and away goal factor. Toby is also looking quite good back there least you all forget and I just wanted to address what I saw some of you said about Josuha and his ability on the ball, he plays better than our captain and tiago when under pressure from what I’ve seen and he’s quite young, which means there’s room for improvement so I think next season him and Saul both should be here fighting for a spot in the squad

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I’m not so worried about the bookings :

    *Filipe & Tiago are already out for injury, so they are 4 players, not 6

    *I believe one of Godin & Miranda will be benched vs Osasuna, after a tough game expected at San Siro, and before a very important game at the Calderon vs Real, especially with the solid performance from Toby

    *If Arda got suspended, we have Diego

    *The only one I’m worried about is Costa, he is the one who does not have a back-up, Villa is just coming back from injury, and even without injury, he is not Villa of the last decade
    and we already tried RG8 as a sole striker against Real themselves, and it didn’t work out so well

    But I believe any ref will think a hundred times before he gives Costa the 5th yellow and suspend him against Real Madrid, again ! .. especially after what the refs did to us lately

    I think it was a good thing that this injustice happened to us in this time of the season,
    even the most corrupted federations, or lets just say the federation that have the worst referees in the world can’t keep making wrong calls against you all the time
    I think they will stop .. at least for a while

    So, it’s up to Simeone to control his player, and to Costa to control himself
    he will see a very hustle crowd in El Sadar next week, and he gotta learn how to deal with it the right way .. by scoring goals