Atleti couldn’t capitalise on their first half domination and instead of routing Depor in the second, they had to hold on for dear life in order to secure the three points.
The first half provided a case of deja vu for colchoneros.
First 5 minute syndrome returned as Griezmann secured his 19th of the season with an audacious overhead kick, sending the fans crazy.
The French ace wasn’t finished there though and 17 minutes later Grizi connected sweetly with a Jesús Gámez throw in and made it 2-0 to the away side.
The sombre atmosphere around the stadium, due to the tragic events that occurred at the previous encounter between both sides, marred the spectacle slightly with Atleti not taking up their allocation of travelling supporters.
Despite this, Atletico Madrid’s on field antics shone through with a terrific display of skill and control. Even if Atleti began the second half with eleven men but without a manager.
Referee David Fernadez Borbalan wasn’t too impressed with Cholo’s interpretation of a challenge on Griezmann, even though the Frenchman won the free kick, and banished Simeone to the stands.
Removing Atleti’s general took it’s toll and although Los Rojiblanco’s picked up where they left off in the second 45, the pendulum slowly swung in favour of Deportivo.
Riera got one back in the 78th minute for the home side as Atleti couldn’t deal with the mounting pressure.
The lack of authority shown in the latter stages of the game owed to the fact that Atleti had one eye on the crucial Champions League second leg the following Wednesday, and Deportivo are currently fighting for their lives as they face a relegation battle.
The departure of Arda Turan and Griezmann coupled with Depor’s decision to go three at the back set up an explosive end to the game but Atleti did enough to keep the Galicians at bay and secure all three points, opening up a four point gap from Valencia and the trailing pack.
Post-match notes and quotes
“The team started the game strong” – Diego Simeone
“We played a great first half, where the team came out very strong.”
“A team that are down at the bottom like Deportivo, with the support of its fans and with the desire to get a goal that would bring them in the match, which inevitably happened,” Cholo admitted.
“The early goals allowed us to dominate proceedings especially in the first half and until their goal,” Simeone acknowledging first 5 minute syndrome and the first half performance.
Simeone on Koke; “He’s a player who is very good at creating goals and wins many tackles.”
“With each game, his role in the midfield gets greater and greater”
“We have a tough job on to stay fourth and we will have to keep up the effort because there are many matches to be played,” Cholo finished.
“Today we had another final and we came through it” – Jesús Gámez
“We have many finals ahead, we play each game as if it were one, today we had a final and we have pushed through it.”
‘Final by final’ has kicked in now as we approach the final run in of the season.
Raul Garcia faced the press too. “After the Champions League it has always been hard for us to push through the next game, but we knew how important the three points were and I think that the team has responded well.”
It has been no secret that Atleti haven’t performed to the best of their abilities after their European obligations this season.
“We had many chances in the game but the important thing is that the team performs well and maintains that, and this is how we want to end the year.” RG8 claimed.
Gámez the unlikely hero
Jesús Gámez was signed primarily to be a backup defender, and with his experience and reliability to fill a gap without disrupting the team.
The 30-year-old full-back has grasped his slim chance of first team football with a recent run of impressive displays and has added a new threat to the Atletico Madrid arsenal; the throw in.
Gámez’ ability to transform a seemingly inconspicuous throw-in into a goal scoring opportunity has made him an crucial element of Atleti’s attacking prowess.
The veteran picked up and assist as his rocket like throw in was finished off by Griezmann.
This new dynamic to the set piece superiority of Los Rojiblancos has provided 4 goals now and Atleti lead the top 5 European leagues with goals from throw ins.
God Damn Griezmann!
Griezmann has now scored 20 goals in La Liga and his red hot form has no end in sight.
Grizi might as well have a permanent slot in the Recap as he keeps putting in world class performances each game.
It’s not only his goalscoring that has spectators impressed but his defensive work rate has also caught the eye and his all round game is developing fast.
The start of the season saw Griezmann permanently parked on the bench as he hadn’t quite grasped the Atleti way but under the guidance of Cholo the youngster has become a key player for Los Rojiblancos this season.
- Jan Oblak couldn’t keep a clean sheet but was solid throughout and has all but cemented his place as number one keeper now.
- Raul Garcia captained the team and did well as an attacking outlet whilst also carrying out his defensive duties when called upon.
- Raul Jimenez had just under half an hour to show why he deserves more game time but unfortunately couldn’t impact the game.
- Arda Turan dazzled with some fine footwork but was brought off in order to keep El Turco fresh for the showdown on Wednesday night.