It was cruise control for Los Rojiblancos at the Calderón on Saturday afternoon, as they claimed a much needed three points against Getafe.
Valencia’s Friday night mauling of Elche opened up a four point gap from third to fourth, meaning that Atlético Madrid had to win in order to stay on Los Che’s tail.
It had been approximately 69,528 hours (and 3 minutes) since the last time Atleti’s prodigal son had blessed the Vicente Calderon with a La Liga goal.
‘A goal made in Madrid’ was how Nick described the opening goal on Saturday in his post-match report, as future legend Koke floated in an inviting cross for living legend Torres, who rose like a phoenix from the ashes, to steer in his fourth goal since returning home.
The scoreboard read 1-0 to Atleti before the words ‘goal drought’ could be typed into the Matchday LIVE comments section.
It seems Simeone has given up his strict no-rotation policy for lent this year with Oblak, Jimenez and Gimenez all handed starts – albeit due to injury and suspension.
All three made the most of their game time. Raúl Jiménez was trying to force his way into Simeone’s plans for the latter stage of the season with a determined performance. The other Raúl had failed to score, but set up the second goal before the stroke of half time and the Mexican received a standing ovation from the fans as he was subbed off.
Jan Oblak (aka The Cloud) had a comfortable La Liga debut with only a handful of saves to make – mainly due to the performance of the Uruguayan Jose Maria Gimenez who literally put his body on the line to prevent Getafe getting a sniff at goal.
Tiago’s 44th minute strike was his fourth goal of the season and the Portuguese put in a commanding performance in the middle of the pitch.
Post-game notes and quotes
“Physically we are in good shape,” said Raúl Jimenez when he faced the cameras after the match. “The squad has been rotated and today there were players who haven’t been involved as much.”
The rotation is welcome to the critics of Simeone who feel this is his biggest managerial flaw.
“It is good that we now have a break with players going off on international duty.”
“Eventually we did our damage through set-pieces” – Diego Simeone
“In the first 25 minutes, the team played very well, passing well, creating a lot of scoring chances, showing intensity.”
Asked if he would watch El Clasico, Simeone said he was “more interested” in the match between fifth-place Sevilla and sixth-place Villarreal, also on the Sunday.
“Torres is improving, understanding his team-mates better,” Simeone said. “He lives to score and needed to score in the league. We needed more from Torres and he is giving it to us.
“He creates healthy competition with Mandzukic, who is a decisive player for us.”
Cholo also addressed the elephant in the room, and declared that the Croatian is decisive for Atleti, playing down rumours that Mandzukic will be leaving at the end of the season.
Arda survives another 90 minutes
The eternal sub Arda Turan managed to make it through another 90 minutes, and was only taken off in stoppage time.
Turan’s man of the match effort against Bayer was no one-off, and there’s no doubt that when Arda is on form he raises the playing level of those around him.
Arda Turan is world class but El Turco has shown why Europe’s top clubs are after his signature over the past few weeks.
“We’re very happy with Arda Turan, he is a very important player for us,” said Clemente Villaverde, Atleti’s Managing Director.
- Fernando Torres got his first goal in La Liga since his homecoming and with Mandzukic’s injuries and suspensions looks to have made the centre forward spot his own.
- Jose Maria Gimenez put in another good performance with Miranda being out from suspension. The Uruguayan’s is slowly becoming a fan favourite amongst the Atleti faithful with another passionate display.
- Koke – after disappointing recently with his set pieces, the canterano came up with the goods and both goals were the result of his deliveries.