The Rojiblanco Recap – Another two points dropped

Atleti fail to win in Espanyol after being reduced to 10 men

RCD Espanyol v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga

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.

  • Forget it – move on – we have Bayer tomorrow! With Miranda at the back because Godin is suspended!

  • koke6

    I don’t think they lacked cohesion. I think that we clearly won the midfield battle. Being a man short definitely limited the team’s opportunities in chance creation but I think that this was definitely a better performance than the draw against sevilla. The chance that Raul Garcia got was maybe the best chance of the 2nd half but it was not like we created many. Maybe if we weren’t a man down that miss wouldn’t have affected as much, as we would’ve created many more and won the game. I think they have improved at the right moment. I’m sure we’ll win the game against bayer.

  • Chewie

    After some thought, I would have to partially agree with those who spoke of bad luck. Considering the squad changes and the strengthened competition in the league, Cholo did a pretty good job with what he had in the time he had.

    As we know, fortune favours the strong. Last season we were strong, most importantly mentally. Example: we had 17 victories with a one-goal lead, half of them 1-0. Even though those victories were narrow, the team showed real class and we as fans had no doubt that we could keep the score. This season we have only 6. Which means that even if we win the remaining 12 games with a narrow lead, we’ll only have only one more.

    Bad luck came with a lack of discipline. Even when we play well, like with Valencia, we fail to close games. All it takes is to relax a little, and you’re in trouble. Last year we were outplayed only in a couple of matches. This year much more.

    But things aren’t so bad if you try to detach from the fan’s perspective. The team played badly – recently – only against Celta, Sevilla and Bayer. There were a couple of unlucky games like the one with Villarreal and the first leg against Barcleona in the cup. Curiously enough, most of bad luck comes from the players’ stupidity: be it Juanfran, Siqueira, Miranda or whoever sees red or gives away a penalty. Atletico without discipline is the Atletico of five years ago, not the one we’re used to seeing in the last seasons.

    Regarding the ‘Simeone out’ – I would say this only if we lose to Bayer, finish out of the CL zone and by the end of the next season’s first half find ourselves, again, out of the CL zone. We all know the man’s weaknesses but he’s still a young coach with a lot to learn, which he certainly will. First he has to tame the players. It’s okay seeing grown men and big professionals fighting tooth and nail, but it’s not okay seeing them bitching, arguing and behaving like little boys.

    (I may be wrong about the exact numbers but who cares).

    Aupa Atleti!

  • You started your comment with mentioning bad luck, but then you talked mostly about lack of discipline .. I agree with the second point

    I was watching one of our games last season with a friend, and we were struggling, and I said to him :
    “The thing about this Atleti is that they usually win with only one goal, but either they are playing good or bad, you are very sure that the goal will come, just like
    Al Ahly”
    It is because the character, the strong personality, or in other words :
    The Discipline

    From were we stand right now, I do not consider what Simeone did a good job, because Valencia who are above us also had a lot of changes, not just the players, but also the coach, and they do not have better players than ours
    I was the one who started the “Simeone out” hypothetical campaign, but I will not say it if we couldn’t pass Bayer or if we didn’t finish in the top 4 this season, but I will officially start the campaign if we finished out of the top 4 next season, because we have the 3rd biggest budget in Spain, so, there is no excuse

    Some people ask me why are you getting ahead of yourself and imaging the worst ?!
    My answer is :
    After 2000 and its big problems that ended with relegation we are trying to get back to our normal place, competing for titles in Spain & Europe, and we have had some success and seen hope with Aguirre and Quique, but the things were always going wrong again, and in the last 6 weeks I’ve been seeing the same ghost I saw with Aguirre & Quique, and I fear ghosts .

  • Kris

    Ohh boi, Miranda. Please prove me wrong, man. Please show to me you’re still as strong as Godin. Well need that tomorrow. Not conceding and scoring combined will be our number one objective tomorrow. Griezmann, I’m counting on you man. But if not, “Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst.” I’m doing both at the moment.