The red and white aftermath: Match Day 34

Rojiblancos leave it late to keep La Liga dream alive

Costa elche

Costa celebrated scoring penalty (pic: ceska)

Win, win, win and – if necessary – win again. That is what Atlético have to do if they are to claim their first La Liga title in 18 years this season.

The team know that three more victories are needed from their last 4 games to secure top spot, although as usual, the only game that matters right now is the next one.

All season, Simeone has insisted on the game-by-game approach, and said that he would only speak of winning La Liga should his team still be in the race come April.

True to his word, he told press before Friday’s clash that instead of ‘partido a partido’, a phrase that will surely go down in Atlético folklore regardless of where his team finishes, it’s now ‘final a final’. Partido just doesn’t describe how big the remaining four matches are for the red and whites.

In the first of their five finals, Atlético were made to sweat but ultimately broke down a stubborn Elche defence on Friday evening, 2-0 the end result.

Not for the first time in matches of this magnitude, Miranda and Diego Costa were the scorers, the former breaking the deadlock on 72 minutes with a perfectly executed looping header.

Both have a game in hand, although before turning attentions to Tuesday’s equally important Champions League semi-final, Simeone’s team can be safe in the knowledge that Real Madrid and Barcelona are the ones playing catch up, 6 and 7 points behind respectively.

The best news was that Diego Costa had seemingly not been affected in the slightest by the collision with the post last week that many predicted would ‘end his season’, and stuck in goal number 35 of a dream season.

However, our penalty woes continued, and although Costa converted his late spot-kick to make the game safe, David Villa was the latest victim having earlier seen his effort parried by Manu Herrera.

All in all though, the team will be pleased to have come through with the victory, and can now turn attentions to Europe and the visit of Chelsea on Tuesday.

Cholo delighted with team effort

You probably don’t need to hear what Simeone had to say post-match, his touchline shenanigans usually say just about everything, although the Argentine tactican was a little more calm in the press room.

“We knew it was going to be an open and dangerous match because we faced a team that, tactically, are very strong,” he said.

“We struggled to find gaps in the first half and by contrast, they took advantage of chances on the counter-attack. The attitude changed in the second half. The intensity increased and, from persistence, came the reward. Our perseverance delivered a fair victory.”

Cholo opted to make all three substitutions available to him early in the second half, but once more it paid off to maximum effect.

“The changes were positive. Diego gave us depth, Raul García’s entry was decisive. José [Sosa] broke the stalemate with a great corner… we were a lot more dangerous in the second half going back to 4-4-2.” he finished.

Sosa the super sub yet again

Sosa’s assist was his fifth since joining on loan from Metalist Kharkiv back in January, four of which have been from the substitute’s bench.

The Argentine international has slotted into the set-up with ease, and much like fellow winter addition Diego Ribas has added a different type of threat to our squad options.

We know we have to take every opportunity that comes on the pitch. Every ball, every free-kick… as often games are decided by these situations,” he told press.

“The first half was difficult, we struggled to find our rhythm, but we drew energy from the crowd and pushed forward. For us it is a great relief and great joy, we are living very important moments right now.”

The former Bayern Munich has also spoken lately of his desire to remain at the Calderón beyond the summer, would you be in favour of signing Sosa on a permanent deal?

Miranda decisive in yet another final

In addition to a typically solid match defence, João Miranda did again what he does so well and found the net in another final.

As Real Madrid and Chelsea found out last season, the Brazilian saves his best moments in front of goal for the big occasion, and it was he who provided the vital breakthrough twenty minutes from time.

“This was a very important win,” he said upon the final whistle. “We have four finals left and have to carry on like this.”

“When we have to suffer, the team knows how to suffer. Now we can rest and think about the game against Chelsea.”

Miranda also revealed that the goal was something he and Sosa had rehearsed in training, and Simeone could be seen by TV cameras before the goal signalling for his compatriot to send the ball to the back post.

“It’s a move we’ve trained for, one we’ve worked on a lot,” he claimed “We have plenty of quality from set-pieces, and thankfully this time I was able to benefit.”

Escribá wishes former club well

Nowadays we are used to seeing Mono Burgos accompanying Simeone on the touchlines, although not long ago, Elche boss Fran Escribá was the man with that role, spending two years at the Calderón as Quique Sánchez Flores’ assistant.

Since then, Escribá has taken the venture into management and is having great success, having won the Segunda last year and enjoyed a solid campaign in the top tier this season. He spoke after the game about the match and his former club.

“We had our chances to go ahead in the first half, but in the second half everything changed. Regardless of how of well we feel we’ve performed, the result is what it is and we leave without anything,” he said.

“However, holding on here is difficult and I have to congratulate Atlético. I have great memories here and wish them the best, hopefully they win La Liga and the Champions League.”

Other notes:

– After February’s blip, the Rojiblancos have now won 8 league matches on the bounce, hitting form just at the right time. Before Simeone’s arrival such a run had never been done in club history, although this is the third time he has managed the feat.
– During those 8, we have kept seven clean sheets and only conceded once. Our defence remains the best in the division, and Courtois is closing in on the Zamora trophy for the second successive season.
– As for the Pichichi, Diego Costa is now just one goal behind Cristiano Ronaldo with 27 in La Liga. Whether he is eligible for the Zarra it is still unclear, although if so then we can assume the award is already his.
– The win was also our 27th in La Liga, another club record.
– Keeping with the record theme, Villa’s penalty was the fourth we have missed this season, one away from the unmatched total of five we spurned back in 1975-76.
– And one more; Atleti have now scored 108 goals this season, the best ever return in 110 years of history.

  • Kris

    It’s just Simeone breaking all the records. Nothing new. Yes, I would definitely want Sosa if he comes cheap because he fits in just perfectly with Atletico. He’s got acceleration for counters, is a set piece and free kick master (much like Koke, but is also great at direct free kicks), he’s got trickery, AND he defends.

    “We know when and how to suffer” that quote is intelligent in so many ways….

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    *Billy, we have scored 109 goals so far, unless you didn’t count Villa’s goal in the Super Cup .. and I think you should

    *In case some people don’t know what “Zarra Trophy” is, it is a trophy awarded by MARCA -just like Pichichi & Zamora- for the top Spanish goal scorer in La Liga, named after Bilbao legend and all-time La Liga top scorer Telmo Zarra (251 goals)

    and if Cosat is not eligible for it this year, I think Villa has a good chance to clinch it
    without considering Costa, Villa is now third with 13 goals behind Pedro who has 14 and Aduriz who has 15 goals
    it will be really a great thing for Villa to win it, especially on the psychological level

    *Kris, this is exactly the point about Sosa : “if he comes cheap”
    as far as I know, in Sosa’s loan contract we have a purchase option of 10 million euros
    for me, this is a lot, putting in mind that a player like Jeremy Menez will be a free agent in the summer

    *and yes Kris, “We know when and how to suffer” are words should be written in golden letters
    not every team know how to suffer,
    recently we all saw that Barca don’t, and I believe that Real also don’t .. the first give up very easily, and the second get very nervous and very violent

    The amazing thing is that many people would have thought that Atleti should be the ones who don’t know how to suffer, because they are the ones who don’t have many solutions when games get closed and complicated, not those who have Messi & Neymar, or Ronaldo & Bale

    But we do have what is more important than great players, we have a magnificent coach, a coach who “invents” solutions, because as they say :
    “necessity is the mother of invention”
    he created his own weapons, in the form of tricky free kicks, perfect corner kicks, fast and furious counter-attacks
    25 goals for Atleti this season were from set-pieces, 15 of them were from corners

    we have a coach who has limited resources, but he knows how to use every single bit of them,
    17 different players have scored for Atleti this season, I don’t know if this is a record or not, but it is indeed a very big number

    you don’t really need the best players in the world to be with the bests
    you just need good players .. led by one of the best coaches in the world

  • Brad

    BTW, Sosa might come better than cheap. Ukraine’s a mess and I can’t see him going back to Metalist.

  • starvs

    Cholo is certainly getting better with his subs. Doing them earlier and making more drastic changes.

    No real surprised Sosa is doing well, he was hand picked by Cholo who had past experience with him, gotta trust Cholo. Certainly would like him to stay, and as Brad said, give state of Ukraine who knows if his contract/load agreement is even relevant at this point.

    17 diff players scoring is a lot, I do wonder what the record is.

    Miranda is pretty clutch.

  • kris

    If I am not mistaken, is Costa 1 goal shy of tying Falcao’s record of scoring the most amount of goals in a season for an Atleti player? That’s pretty incredible,, with at least 6 games to go, I believe he can break this record… COME ON COSTA!!!

    Miranda is very clutch. In the back, rarely anything gets past him and he’s always scoring vital headers.

  • anshary

    I don’t know if you guys have seen this, but this is amazing! Legend of Simeone Jr in the making!

  • Valinia

    sosa is a great sub (as usual), but i doubt if we will sign him at the end of the season since we r getting oli back

  • Valinia

    i know their best positions r different but there’s still competition for a place in the first team n playing in a game. also from what the media says were close on signing correa frm san lorenzo.. n we already hv 3 non eu players (sosa, miranda & gimenez)

  • Silchas

    Miranda will get a spanish passport, gimenez will be loaned and now there is place for an other Non-eu player. Even if Miranda doenst get the passport. Im certain that gimenez will be loaned to Rayo or some other LaLiga-club

  • AaX

    SORRY!…..WHATEVER IT IS Valencia is Key. FOCUS EVERYTHING ON Valencia in our Favour. GOD Willing ! P E A C E

  • Chewie

    I’ve just read that Sosa might as well return to Ukraine since Menez’s transfer looks more attractive to our board. I personally like Jose and will feel bad for him if he’ll return to that miserable country. But I guess club interests come first.

  • piserakos

    Great victory!! Now Chelsea….
    About Sosa, they say that we may take him for free. Cause Metalist is destroyed and they will probably leave him as a free agent, or may we will give them 1-2 million no more! I’m not a big fan of this guy, but i have to admit that he is really usefull. He doesn’t have problem to be at the bench (Cebolla) and when he plays he help. Also i think he is not have a big salary

  • EC

    So it looks like Ivanovic, Eto’o and Hazard are going to be out tomorrow and obviously Matic and Salah are ineligable :).
    We need to start with aggression and intensity tomorrow night. We have a great chance to take a very good lead to London.

  • Hey guys check this out! Looks like we’re keeping an eye on Calhonoglu.
    He plays with Hamburg and has score 10 goals for them this season and he is very young.
    What you guys think?
    Here’s the source mates.

  • And he is turkish so he and Arda would link up very well, maybe. I’ve never seen him play but people are comparing him with Ozil..

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I don’t understand how the situations in Ukraine will force Metalist or any other club to let go of their players for free ?!
    yes, maybe they will give up 1 or 2 million of their prices, but they will never let them leave for free

    I know what I’m talking about, I’m an Egyptian !
    we are living in hell since 25 January revolution in 2011, the league stopped many times for political unrest, and like that was not enough, when everybody thought things are finally back to normal, came Port Said Stadium Massacre

    Because of that, many Egyptian clubs were forced to sell their players, either to Europe or to Arab countries
    But they did not leave for free and they were not even sold cheaply
    Al-Moqaweloon made a lot of money from Mohammad Salah, from both Basel & Chelsea (as they were still have 25% of his rights)
    and many other clubs made a lot of money from selling their players, so they were actually the ones who took advantage of the situation !!

    while other rich clubs (mainly Al-Ahly & Zamalek) managed to keep most of their players and even made new signings (and I’m talking about both Egyptian and foreign players)
    and despite all the circumstances and while the Egyptian league was suspended,
    Al-Ahly surprised the whole world and won CAF Champions league (twice) in 2012 & 2013

    in Egypt like in Ukraine, football is a big business that bring a lot of money to the nation, and it is not in the interest of anyone from any side of the conflict to destroy that very big business

    With all due respect to Ukrainians, but what is happening there for 3 months is nothing compared to what is happening in Egypt for 3 years
    I’m sorry, but when I read things like Ukraine is a “mess” or “destroyed” it make me laugh

    It may surprise you if I told you that Syria -which is literally destroyed- is still playing football, in both club level and national teams .. in fact, they never stopped !

    and that is a county which have been in war for 3 years, not in a “political crisis” like Ukraine

    Ukraine is fine.

  • Ali

    @randy German! Arda is calhanoglus idol.. The player he admires the most. And they are also team mates for turkey national team and hakan calhanoglu is dubbed as the next ozil and even european biggest teams are after him including arsenal , chelsea , Man U , man C , Real Madrid , dortmund and atleti. But I think he will join atletico or dortmund. Because of nuri sahin and arda turan respectively.

  • Ali

    @ahmad Egypt is hell? Then what do you mean? Pakistan is paradise. With suicide bombings every next day in big cities we hardly go out. We don’t know if we will come home alive or dead.

  • Ali

    But you will be safe in pakistan if you live in a town or small cities..

  • @Ali
    I didnt know that but thanks for the extra info! I really hope we get him, he matches simeone’s style and with extra help from Arda, he’ll be World Class (maybe he already is).

  • Silchas

    why calhanoglu? we have Oli and Saul. ok Saul is a bit more defensiv. Also we have a bunch of young players in the B-team and youth as well like borja, calero and hernandez. So why buy a foreign player for a bunch of money( what we might not have) who has the potential but hasn’t got the quality to reinforce the squad yet?

    i think keep Sosa for a reasonable price makes more sense then get Menez for free who will have a much higher salery and don’t want to sit on the bench. the reason because menez wants to leave paris is to play more often. now which player would you put on the bench for Menez? arda? koke? Villa? Raul?