For the fourth game straight Atleti lacked the killer instinct that helped them clinch the league title last season and find themselves down to fourth.
The lack of intensity and cohesion in a game that we needed to win in order to leapfrog Valencia was a cause for concern.
*sigh* – Really guys?
I thought we were supposed to play like this after our Champions League games?
The main talking point was Miranda’s reckless challenge in the dying embers of the first half. It resembled a finisher from Street Fighter more than a genuine attempt to win back possession.
The Brasilian’s red card made Atleti’s attempt at ending the away goal drought even steeper – it’s now four games – as Torres was immediately sacrificed to make way for Giménez.
Travelling to the Catalunya region has been a struggle for Los Rojiblancos of late, recording only one victory in the last 16 visits.
The wait for an away goal (360 minutes and counting) seemed to be over as Griezmann rocketed home a volley in the second half but the goal wasn’t given as the referee believed Godin had illegally won his aerial duel prior to the Frenchman’s strike.
Raul Garcia’s one-on-one later on was the game’s best chance, but the real Raul is struggling to recapture the form that made him formidable last season.
The foul count also surpassed the half century mark in a game constantly interrupted by the ref’s whistle.
Not the ideal preparation for a crucial Champions League second leg but Cholo’s warriors need to forget this game in a hurry and focus on overturning a single goal deficit come Tuesday night.
Post-game notes and quotes
Veterans Tiago and Jesus Gamez faced the press after the game
“It’s another point for our fight,” Tiago summarised. “We wanted to win, but I think we responded well.”
The Portuguese refers to the team’s response to the first half dismissal, which was positive but unfortunately not enough to snatch the three points.
“We’re confident in ourselves.”
With Atleti’s recent run of form it is encouraging to see that the squad are steadfast in their belief that this is only a phase – a belief that is running low amongst some sections of the fans.
“After the expulsion we knew that we were going to have more difficulties, but all in all, we still had some chances to win the game” Gamez admitted.
The second half performance was admirable by the 10 men on the field and the team can feel unlucky that they couldn’t get the ball in the back of the net.
“I don’t know what our poor away run is down to; we put a lot of pressure on Espanyol, we came close to goal lots of times, but it was not to be,” Tiago conceded.
“It’s a run of bad luck but it has to change fast. We need to collect our points in threes.”
Has the beast been tamed?
Is anyone else wondering what has happened to our fierce number 8?
The man mountain that is Raul Garcia hasn’t kicked on from the excellent season he had last term and it’s costing the team.
Garcia is currently 8 goals off his tally of 17 from last season and his goal scoring abilities haven’t been as potent as they were – his performance against Espanyol testifies to this.
Despite his lack of goals, Garcia has continued his knack of picking up bookings with seven to his name this season.
This side of Raul Garcia has made him somewhat of a cult hero amongst the Atleti faithful, embodying the never say die attitude of his leader Simeone – but when this is not balanced out by a promising goal and assists return it loses its novelty.
With a grand total of 3 assists in La Liga, his creative qualities are not what they should be.
Simeone has no doubt got the best out of Raul Garcia, a player that no-one saw as more than average previously, but did he reach his peak last season?
We can only hope that the real Raul ends the season at his best. With Atleti now trailing Valencia, he will need to be.
The final thoughts
- Mario Mandzukic was suspended for the game but whether he will start the midweek tie against Bayer is still uncertain. The press are in full swing regarding who will replace the Croatian at the end of the season.
- Gimenez will no doubt deputise for Miranda against Getafe next weekend after his red card.
- Arda Turan did not start against Espanyol but he was simply being rested for the Champions League match on Tuesday – no fall out to report here.
Luis is a frustrated Atlético fan in the UK – you can read more of his thoughts by following him on Twitter under the username @Luis_Muscat. He’ll be joining us every week for a review of the post-match action.