Atlético Madrid laid down an early season marker at the Ramon Sánchez Pizjuán on Sunday evening, putting three past Sevilla to ensure they left Andalusia with all three points.
The new look Atleti side demonstrated their ambitions for the upcoming season with a strong performance against a Sevilla side who, despite not being able to beat Atleti in their last 11 attempts, had been beaten only once at home in the whole of last season.
The atmosphere around the ground before kick-off was as hot as the southern Spanish temperature, but Simeone’s soldiers were not phased and dug in as Sevilla threw the kitchen sink at Atleti.
Sevilla flew out of the traps and it was their skipper Coke (the diet version, compared to our maestro) who first tried to cut through the cloud aka Oblak with a sizzling effort.
No sooner had the Slovenian beaten the ball away he was back on hand to smother a tame effort from Krychowiak.
The hostile home crowd’s emotions were replicated by their players with the first half being littered with yellow cards and the red blooded affair didn’t allow the game to flow.
Late in the first half Atleti cranked up the pressure on their hosts and as Godin launched the ball in the direction of the opposition’s box.
Griezmann grappled with Carrico who, despite successfully rugby tackling our French ace to the ground, couldn’t stop him from poking the ball over to Koke who in turn stuck the ball past Beto and broke the deadlock.
As Sevilla pressed and pressed, Atleti were only able to threaten on the break but unfortunately our new/old number nine Fernando Torres couldn’t capitalise on a few one-on-one situations, opting to pass instead of driving head on at the remaining defenders.
After soaking up and absorbing as much pressure as Sevilla could force on them, Atleti started pushing for a second to end the tie and as Tiago intercepted a loose pass the ball began moving up the pitch like a pinball machine coming to an end with Carrasco being brought down a stones throw from the centre circle.
As most TV monitors worldwide were focusing on the substitution of Colombian forward Jackson Martinez into the game, Atleti heard the whistle and played to it.
As the ball was knocked temptingly in front of Gabi, the captain struck an audacious long range rocket which ricocheted off of Krychowiak’s back putting it just out of reach of the out stretched Beto.
The game was wrapped up and Los Rojiblancos had dismantled one of the most formidable teams in Spain – and in their own back yard.
The red and white warriors were still on the warpath though driven on by their goal drunk chieftain Simeone, they searched for more.
Six minutes later the man mountain Jackson Martinez answered his manager’s call and following a one-two with Griezmann stroked the ball over Beto, who was well off his line, and claimed his first goal for his new team and put the final nail in the coffin.
Post-match notes and quotes
“It was one of the best matches we’ve played in a long time” – Simeone
“The scoreline made the game seem simple! We faced one of our Liga rivals that boasts a great team, that can attack on the wings or through the middle. Sevilla defend well also but it’s their high pressure that makes them extremely dangerous”
“Both Griezmann and Torres had a tremendous game under that intense pressure.”
“We improve as the games go by and last weekend was more of a struggle but in contrast, today, there were not many times when we were not in control.”
Cholo ended his press conference as you’d expect – highlighting the partido a partido mentality.
“Our only objective is the next game – Barcelona.”
“From the first whistle we were in it to win” – Gabi
“We played a really well rounded game and for that I congratulate my teammates for all playing their part in this great win”
Torres chimed in as well and echoed his manager’s words.
“This team works incredibly hard so that we are challenging for every possible cup but without losing sight of what’s most important – the next game”
Koke finished up the press conference.
“We are all happy to win at such a tough ground especially as Sevilla is a direct rival to us”
Tiago the immortal
The veteran Portuguese seemingly laughs in the face of age as our central midfielder put in a performance of pure experience and intelligence.
Drawing fouls when in tight spots to making vital interceptions to even starting off a few counter attacks, Tiago played a great game and provided a vital anchor in midfield, protecting his defenders and infuriating the Sevilla attacking posse.
With Atleti’s injection of youth it is important that senior players step up and help to assimilate the youngsters as quick as possible and Tiago led by example against Sevilla.
Will his form ever end?
A completely new number 10. It’s no exaggeration to say that Óliver Torres was everywhere on Sunday night.
Oli was outstanding when performing defensive duties and also was explosive attacking down the wing.
A fresh more energetic number 10 has emerged at Atleti and at only 20 years of age, Torres is an indicator of Los Rojiblancos bright future.
Jan Oblak has 2 clean sheets in 2 games now and dealt with everything that Sevilla could throw at him. The Slovenian has grown in to the number 1 role now and his defenders in front of him seem more trusting of the youngster.
Griezmann was once again outstanding and although the Frenchman only assisted, was unlucky not to get on the score sheet himself. The number 7 has been given a free role just behind Torres and is repaying Simeone’s trust with excellent performances.
Carrasco made a cameo appearance in the second half and gave us a glimpse of what he is capable of. Atleti haven’t had genuine pace on the wing for a while now and his speed gives us yet another option up front. His ability to work the ball up from defence as well is important and it’s clear he will have no problem fitting in to our style of play.
The Raúl García news overshadowed much of the game, but we’ve covered this elsewhere. The players paid tribute to the Real Raúl when the goals went in, holding up eight fingers to the stands.