Post-derbi blues had to be sidelined as Atleti were back in domestic action and needed to push in order to finish La Liga strongly.
Elche were looking to claim their first ever win at the Calderón as they face a relegation scrap down at the bottom.
It was the visitors who had an early chance as the Uruguayan centre back tag team of Godín and Giménez both went for the same header and instead of getting rid of the danger almost assisted Gonzalez but the striker fired wide.
The Elche keeper, Tyton, played the pantomime villain as he blocked, tipped and saved everything Atleti threw at him; including a plethora of RG8 headers and some Torres efforts.
The Calderón was brimming with young Atelticos as it was Día del Niño and the junior rojiblancos (and future AtleticoFans readers) were finally rewarded with a goal.
Guess who? Griezmann. The French hitman broke the deadlock with an acrobatic header, taking full advantage of Tyton’s error.
This was followed shortly by an absolute screamer from RG8 who finally got his name on the score sheet as he let fly with his ‘weaker’ foot and completely caught out Tyton.
Something was missing though, something we Atleticos have become accustomed to when watching our recent La Liga fixtures. A Griezmann brace.
Grizi didn’t disappoint though as on the 77th minute he guided home a Saúl cut back to put the game to bed.
Post-game notes and quotes
“I’m just happy to help the team” – Griezmann
“It is true that playing so often, sometimes every three days, is hard, but we won got the three points which was the most important thing.” Grizi touching on the hardships of playing with less breaks.
“We have to win the remaining League matches,”
“I’m happy to help the team. I wish to continue this streak, the most important thing is to help the team.” – the humility shown by the youngster is a great aspect of Griezmann’s character and one that will ultimately allow the team to progress.
“I’m proud of my boys.” – Simeone
“It has been a much needed victory in the League because our impressive Champions League run has come to an end”
“We’re giving our all trying to finish among the best in the Spanish League, which is possibly the best of European football, and if Real Madrid and Barcelona were to get to the Champions League final, we would be talking about being in the best League in the world.”
“We’re right behind them, bothering them a bit, with humility and forever working to recover fast after the other day’s difficult defeat.” – Simeone’s project is on track and with this result it’s clear that the players believe that they can continue to cause the big two problems.
“What I liked most was the team’s reaction to the result of the other day and the change from the first to the second half, in which we were more consistent, more intense, more determined.”
“It is not easy to stay positive. Last year we lost the Champions League final in May and won the Spanish Super Cup in August. And on Wednesday we lost and today we are winning.”
“I am very proud of the team because it competes and works. What counts are the facts and it’s clear to see that we are still fighting to stay among the top three of the League.” – It truly is a team in the managers image.
Antoine Griezmann now has the most amount of goals in La Liga for a Frenchman, breaking Real Madrid’s Benzema’s record of 21 goals.
It’s 22 in the league now and his third brace in a row, the kid is on fire.
We all know he was good buy but he is now entering the realm of world class.
Both in an attacking sense and defending sense he has come on leaps and bounds and despite having a not so pacey strike partner has made the most of his situation.
Saúl causing headaches for Simeone
Saúl has put in some brilliant performances this season and surprised many who thought he wasn’t quite ready for this level.
Saúl’s desire to create space, create chances and grab the odd goal here and there is setting him apart from other promising young midfielders across Europe.
A product of the cantera, Saúl has been indoctrinated with the Atleti way and mirrors the manager, Simeone in many ways on the pitch – his assist for Griezmann highlighting his attributes.
Saúl was shipped out to Rayo last season and picked up the fans player of the season award and also learnt to play in a plethora of different roles eventually becoming invaluable to Paco Jémez.
His emergence poses a headache for Simeone who has an overpopulation in the seriously-good-midifelders department, especially with the return of Oli Torres next season – not a bad problem to have eh?
Whatever his role next season, we know we have a top player who understands what it means to wear the red and white of Atelti, this was shown with his bicycle kick goal against Real Madrid, whose youth system told Saul to leave at the age of 14.
- Oblak aka The Cloud secured another clean sheet and is starting to show why Atleti uncharacteristically splashed the cash for him last summer.
- Raúl García finally broke his duck and claimed a goal which brought his tally to 10 in all competitions – not quite the player of last season but maintaining such a high level of performance was going to be no easy task.
- Fernando Torres was the only Niño to leave the Calderón disappointed as the Spaniard couldn’t get himself on the score sheet despite a number of attempts.