Busted, hypocrites. All of you!
Celebrating Sevilla goals, ey? Well, who’d have thunk it?
While eternal rivals Real Madrid were en route to a second straight loss in less than a week at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Atlético had to sweat one out themselves at home against Granada Wednesday night.
Los Rojiblancos made their fans wait until just past the hour mark before they could erupt in celebration.
Atlético’s last four league games have played out much the same way: with los Colchoneros walking into the dressing room at the break all knotted up at 0-0, only to take care of business in the second half and come out triumphantly.
The club’s failure to finish off Granada after Diego Costa bagged goal number 100 for Atleti on the season in official play, only fueled the match day’s suspense for the Rojiblanco faithful.
Will Sevilla hold on? Will we hold on? Will Sevilla hold on? Will we hold on?
In the end, our brothers in red and white (but just for one day, now we can resume our feud as mortal enemies), thanks to a pair of strikes by Carlos Bacca, stunned Real in Andalusia.
Meanwhile, time elapsed at the Calderón and we remained unbeaten at home with our fourth straight shutout victory in league play.
Oh, yeah, and WE ARE NOW SOLE LEADERS OF LA LIGA AFTER 30 MATCHES!!!
Atleti will hardly have time to enjoy their latest achievement though, as they must gear up for the most demanding point of the season.
The upcoming schedule reads as follows: away at Athletic Bilbao [remaining games removed from report by Diego Pablo Simeone…partido a partido dammit!]
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone: “Now, more than ever, we have to take it game-by-game”
“In the first half, we set the game up well, but the team was imprecise,” fearsome Atleti boss Diego Simeone said after his squad achieved their 23rd win of the season in Primera.
“Our opponents forced the match into a counterattacking one, but our defence worked well.
“The team earned the win.”
‘El Cholo’ continued: “I repeat, and continue to insist, each game feels long, tough…difficult. It’s been a marvelous year, but we will be evaluated by how it ends, more than by what we have been doing.
“If we make it to the last four or five fixtures, we’ll get a little more excited.”
More Cholo: “I value the effort made by the club to maintain a path of hard work. We have worked well and have kept a solid base of the team. We have a group of players that have wanted to improve and grow. This doesn’t offer us anything, but it teaches us that one can work hard believing in what one is doing, and compete.
“At the half during the Clásico, Real Madrid had pretty much clinched the league and were about to get ahead of Barça by seven points. Now, Madrid are a few points behind and I’m certain that they will recover. They have what it takes to make it to the end in the best way possible.”
On the grueling nature of the calendar, with Atleti having to make five trips and only hosting three more games on their own daunted soil, Simeone said: “Playing every three days will be complicated. It will not be easy. Our guys are human, they work hard, run. I’m very happy about what they’re doing.”
Asked if he was worried that, if his team did not win the league, it would take away from their accomplishments, Cholo said: “No, not at all. It’s been a tremendous season. There are eight finals left, all of which must be taken, more than ever, one game at a time.”
5 goals in 4 games for Costa
The ‘Beast of the Manzanares’ really is in his element at his stadium by the riverbend.
Diego Costa came through once again to notch his 17th goal at the Calderón in 16 league games there in the present term, when he latched his head onto a José Sosa corner kick in the 63rd minute.
The 25-year-old’s overall goal total in all competitions on the campaign stands at 32 (24 in La Liga).
After a very slow start to 2014 for the big guy, he’s fully back to peak form and has found the back of the net five times in his last four starts.
Costa never runs out of gas, and he can be seen chugging along (and barking at his foes) until the very last minute of our encounters and beyond.
A royal touch
“Sosa’s entry gave us more speed in the link-up between our midfielders and forwards,” Simeone said of his ‘Little Prince’.
The Argentine right winger was on the money with the corner kicks he took when he replaced a highly ineffective Cebolla Rodríguez in the 56th minute.
Because Koke was rested, it was Sosa who was tasked with corner kick duties on the evening, and it was from one of those crosses from the edge that he tallied his fourth assist in only 475 minutes of play since arriving during the past winter transfer window.
That’s four assists in the equivalent of a little over five full games. To put things in perspective, Cebolla has two assists in double that time (901 minutes). Filipe Luís, yes Filipe Luís, has four in 3,111 minutes! Finally, Juanfran has four in 3,825 minutes.
Cholo was certainly on to something when he brought his compatriot over from Metalist Kharkiv on loan.
- Cebolla over Diego? Simeone explained his decision to start the ‘Onion’ over Diego thusly: Left back Emiliano Insua is more defensive-oriented than Filipe, so we needed to compensate on the left flank with a more offensive-minded left winger.
- It was another one of those boring nights for Thibaut Courtois, but the Belgian shotstopper probably didn’t mind getting a little rest ahead of our busy slate of tough matches. Thibaut’s clean sheet total keeps growing, as he now has 22 shutouts on the campaign, 16 of those coming in La Liga. Atleti have shut their opponents out in more than half of their games in Primera in the current term, and only 6 of our 16 visitors have managed to score at the Calderón.
- Gabi is one yellow card away from a second suspension, as he was booked for a ninth time this season.
- Remember those days when we longed for qualification into the Champions League? Well, Atleti are one point away — with 8 games left on the schedule — from clinching a berth into UEFA’s top club tournament for our next campaign.