Manny Pacquiao wasn’t the only one who couldn’t land a knockout blow at the weekend as Atleti were unable to get the ball in the back of the net (legally).
I emphasise the word legally as the match ball found itself ruffling the back of the Bilbao net on a few occasions but Saturday afternoon’s officials did their best to keep the match goalless.
The first controversial decision involved Fernando Torres, who felt he was held back inside the penalty area. The Atleti poster boy managed to get his shot off but was angered that the referee didn’t penalise Etxeita for his grappling and got all up in the proverbial grill of Jaime Latre.
It was Grizi who got the first of the day’s disallowed goals as a melee ensued in the box, Griezmann wandered in from an offside position and struck the ball home.
Grizi was involved again as birthday boy Tiago looped a perfectly weighted ball over to Griezmann who coolly slotted past former Atelti B stopper Iago Herrerin but the linesman believed the Frenchman’s run had strayed offside. Replays showed the linesman got it wrong, but he hadn’t finished there.
Simeone’s Beyonce single ladies hand gesture on the touch line summed up his disappointment with the linesman’s decision.
It wasn’t enough to deny Atleti all three points but the linesman set his sights on Tiago who was celebrating his 34th birthday and disallowed a rare goal for the Portuguese as he elegantly dinked the ball into the goal.
Tiago couldn’t have been more onside and the poor officiating marred what should have been a comfortable win.
Another year younger
Atleti’s veteran Tiago celebrated his 34th birthday on Saturday and was unlucky not to mark it with a goal.
The Portuguese has spent 5 years defending the red and white shirt and has been an integral member of the squad ever since his arrival.
Tiago is a player who has flourished under the leadership of Cholo Simeone and last season saw him perform at the very height of his powers – a feat usually unheard of for a player in his thirties.
The start of the year season saw Tiago come under heavy criticism as rumour had it the Portuguese had agreed to join Chelsea on a free transfer but the move was ultimately blocked by Mourinho. In addition to this, it leaked out that Tiago had advised Diego Costa to move to Stamford Bridge.
The Portuguese however has worked his way back into the hearts of colchoneros over the course of the season, notably scoring in both La Liga derbi matches.
Back in business
Miranda has had a real rollercoaster ride of a season with the Brasilian not sure whether he was going to be playing for Manchester United or Atleti by the start of it.
The Brasileiro decided not to breakup the most coveted centre back partnership of the 2013/2014 season but it was clear that this was not the same Miranda that we’d seen in previous years.
His unreliable form opened the door for the youngster Gimenez to showcase his potential who put in stellar performances and far outperformed expectations.
Maybe it the was the threat of losing his position that woke up Miranda and the turn of the new year has seen the Brasilian return to form – so much so that he has been one of the first names on the team sheet for the Selecao.
The emergence of Gimenez and with the return of the loaned out Velasquez next season it is yet to be seen if Miranda will seek pastures new or if he will continue to fight for his place at the very beating heart of the team.
- Mandzukic came on for Torres early in the second half but failed to make an impact on the game. His last goal was back in February against Almeria and the Croat hasn’t looked like changing that statistic.
- Koke was unusually quiet in the game which usually correlates with Atleti lacking that creative spark needed to break down stubborn opposition like Bilbao.
- Oblak kept another clean sheet and that was his eleventh of the season. The Slovenian is undoubtedly number one now and is showing that he is at the required level for Atelti.