Two second half goals were enough to claim all three points against early trailblazers Eibar, who were able to match Atleti for effort but not class.
Substitutes Ángel Correa and Fernando Torres struck in the second half to win the match, as Cholo opted to switch things up at half-time and revert back to the system that has served him so well.
The opening half was a free flowing, competitive affair with possession changing hands more times than Griezmann changes his hairstyles.
Eibar, who were unbeaten and had only conceded once so far this season were rightfully full of confidence and had it not been for the Uruguayan wall in front of them, might have had more to cheer about on the night.
The 6000 strong Eibar faithful created a fierce atmosphere and coming off the back of the trip to Galatasaray midweek, it was out of the frying pan and into the fire (or at least a strong flame) for Atleti.
Señor Cholo, who had come under criticism for his approach to the Barca loss, can take all the plaudits for the result as it was his substitutions that turned the tide of the match and culminated in Los Rojiblancos claiming yet another win on the road.
Ángel Correa and Fernando Torres combined perfectly to break the deadlock with the young Argentine scoring his first for Atleti.
All three subs combined to double the lead as Oli and Correa played piggy in the middle with their markers and then ensued a bit of role reversal as Correa this time assisted Torres who dinked the ball over the keeper to make it 2 – El Niño is one goal away from the 100 club now.
The points were wrapped up and Atleti remain hot on the heels of the Real and Barça.
Post-game notes and quotes:
Simeone: “Correa’s entrance in to the game tipped the balance”
“Correa is a game changer from the midfield onward. Inside the box he is deadly.”
“Today he entered the match at a critical moment, the boys needed something extra to break down a tough opponent and Angel was that catalyst.”
“In the first half we had some opportunities with Jackson but it was the combination of Oli, Torres and Correa that was able to change the game.”
Cholo went on to assess the impact of his super subs.
“In the first half we had three clear goal scoring opportunities but we couldn’t take them and despite the intensity shown by Eibar, the game was played in their half rather than ours.”
“In tight games such as these, we really rely on people who can keep hammering away at the opposition and (Fer) Torres provided this for us.”
“Óliver immediately gave us more possession and with that comes the inevitability that he will open up the defence,”
“And Correa came on and tipped the balance of a game that was fairly even matched up until that point and that is what big players are for.”
Ángel Correa and Oli Torres then assessed their own impacts on the game.
“We knew it would be a very hard-fought game, but we were able to win it.” said goalscorer Correa.
And when asked about the importance of him scoring his first goal for the club
“It was very special for me personally but what is most important is that it helped Atlético to win and we must stay on track.”
“With each match I feel more and more comfortable despite the results.” said Oli.
“It was important in this game especially that we kept control of possession and my team mates allowed me to be the focal point of the attack. I came on with eagerness and ambition to help get the result for the team.”
Jose María Giménez was imperious at the back for Atleti and with his tag team partner Godin made sure his side kept yet another clean sheet.
The sheer composure that Giménez possesses is incredible and has absolutely no problem playing out from the back if he is not presented with an alternate option.
There is an air of nonchalance about the youngster that grows with every well placed tackle or timely interception he makes week in, week out.
Giménez has also proved that he’s not afraid to rough it up as well and never shys away from a scrap.
It’s this warrior spirit that usually ensures his dominance in the air and during the trip to Eibar he was able to knock down the ball into the box in the first half, unfortunately none of the rojiblancos were on hand to poke it in.
Giménez has comfortably dealt with the responsibility that chieftain Cholo has thrust upon the 20 year old and under the guidance of compatriot Godín, is well under way to making himself one of the finest in his position.
The perfect 10
Óliver Torres had 45 minutes to put his stamp on the game and that is exactly what he did.
A Rolls Royce among Range Rovers, Óliver Torres is the glossy finish over what is a well oiled machine and was quickly pulling the strings on Saturday night.
Oli had a ridiculous amount of touches and it seemed the ball was magnetised to his boots as the younster glided across the midfield mercilessly cutting open Eibar at will.
It was Oli who kick started the move that culminated in his namesake Torres scoring his 99th Atleti goal which sealed the game.
Being handed the number 10 shirt at the start of the new campaign would seem a daunting task for a 20 year old but Oli has not only accepted the challenge but is making the position his own.
The future is bright for us if our cantero Oli keeps developing at the current rapid rate.
Patience is the key
Jackson Martínez is still finding his feet but on Saturday night we saw glimpses of what could potentially be yet another ferocious striker for Los Rojiblancos.
The Colombiano had 45 minutes to lead the line and for his part didn’t perform badly.
The sheer presence that Jackson has on the pitch is clear to see as opposition defenders go in to aerial challenges with him understanding that they will emerge second best.
Despite not scoring, it was an absolute delight seeing a striker for Atlético Madrid chasing down loose balls out on the wing, making runs off his markers and simply having his head up instead of aimlessly driving with the ball into disadvantageous positions.
Jackson also has an impressive skill range allowing him to collect the ball from deep and playing out which in turn brings players like Vietto and Grizi in to play.
I’m confident that the half man half mountain, Jackson Martínez will be a huge hit for Atleti but he still needs time to fully understand the ways of Cholo and his red and white disciples.
The final thoughts
- Juanfran has officially made 150 appearances for Atletico Madrid and has been one of the driving forces behind the Simeone era. After arriving in the 2010/11 season, Juanfran has been an undisputed starter and through his performances become a mainstay in the national side.
- Godín also hits a milestone as on Saturday night the Uruguayan made his 250th La Liga appearance, 159 of them coming in an Atletico Madrid shirt. Diego Godín will go down as a club legend and the vice captain continues to be a vital component of Atleti’s success.
- Oblak kept yet another clean sheet and that makes it 4/5 in all competitions. The Slovene had his gloves tested a few times against Eibar but attention will now turn to keeping another clean sheet against Getafe on Tuesday night.