It was a frustrating night at El Madrigal as Atleti fail to make up ground on the ‘big two’.
Simeone’s starting eleven were geared up for midfield domination but this was the area that Los Rojiblancos couldn’t seem to conquer.
Villarreal flew out of the traps and didn’t allow Atleti to have any time or space on the ball with immediate pressure from 2 to 3 yellow shirts as soon as one of our boys found themselves with possession.
The only goal of the game came early and was the direct result of Villarreal’s incessant pressure on their foe as Trigueros bypassed the Atleti midfield with a deep through ball which found its way to Leo Baptistao’s feet after some pinball machine passing inside the box.
The Brasilian delivered poetic justice as he slotted past Jan Oblak and as it turned out, condemned his parent club to their second league defeat of the season.
The yellow submarine submerged and despite some reshuffling from chieftain Simeone, Atleti were unable to get back in to the game.
The diary is busy for Atleti in the coming days so Simeone et al will need to get the red and white warriors reinvigorated and set them on the war path again.
Post-game notes and quotes
Simeone: “We pushed hard in the second half but we just couldn’t get the breakthrough”
A gutted Cholo declared to the gathered press.
“Preparation for the match was clear as we knew we were coming up against a well drilled, hard –working side.”
Villarreal operate on a similar wavelength to that of Atleti’s in their dogged pressing and team defending – a key factor as to why they have been such a thorn in our side over the past seasons.
“They took advantage of the situation in the first half. We pushed in the second half, but couldn’t do it.”
“Villarreal took their chance early in the second half unlike us. We pushed hard in the second half but we just couldn’t break them down.”
Simeone was questioned on his seemingly lack of trust towards Jackson Martinez.
“Jackson is a very important player for the team. We blindly trust him and expect him to appear in the crucial moments of games.”
There’s no doubt that Simeone holds Jackson in high regard but he must go through the process of rationing the man mountain’s playing minutes. The Colombian is in need of a goal though and former rivals Benfica coming to the Calderon on Wednesday night is the perfect place.
Gamez: “We fought as hard as we could.”
“We’ve dropped a crucial three points for us. We knew that it was going to be a tough game and that the game would be decided in the details.”
“We fought as hard as we could but we just couldn’t find the fluidity or the luck that we’ve had in other games. Now, we have to keep our heads up and push on.”
The right back then turned his focus on the two crunch games coming up for his team.
“We’re ready for them. Today didn’t work out the way we wanted and prepared for but we have time now to revaluate and face these two matches now which are extremely important.”
Lucianno Vietto returned to the Madrigal press room but this time donning the red and white stripes.
“They scored early in the first half and from that moment they became a wall which we were unable to break down.”
“Our next match against Benfica is a must win for us and we aim to restore faith for the fans who I’m sure are disappointed at today’s result.”
No luck for Luc
Lucianno Vietto had 45 minutes to remind his former employees why they should be missing him but the young Argentine failed to grasp his opportunity, again.
The 20m marksman, who sunk Atleti at the Calderon last year, hasn’t yet showcased his talents and with the impetuous Simeone you feel his honeymoon period maybe drawing to a close.
A large stumbling block for Vietto is that he is consistently played in the midfield and although I’m sure he is given freedom to support the strikers, you get the impression that he would be able to reveal the form that brought him 20+ La Liga goals last season if he was playing in Griezmann’s role.
It is still very early days and like Griezmann last year will need time to bed in – we only hope it’s sooner rather than later as Atleti need to improve on their current 9 goals tally in the league.
Saul has been a revelation over the past two years and is a testament to the outstanding academy that has seen the likes of Oli Torres and his namesake Fernando Torres pass through the doors.
Saul links up with Oli well and has displayed an impressive skill set which allows him to be influential in counterattacks, his bicycle kick goal against Real last season is the perfect example, but also his defensive abilities are also commendable.
Saul’s willingness to track back and guard his back four was present against Villarreal and his constant harrying of their forwards get the score down to one, keeping Atleti in the game.
Saul’s dilemma is similar to that of Vietto’s whereby his preferred position, i.e. in front of the defence in the centre of the pitch isn’t vacant and unless Gabi loses the captains arm band or Tiago stops visiting the fountain of youth, then he will have to suffice with his role further out wide on the wing.
The final thoughts
- Correa was once again a super sub but this time just couldn’t get his name on the score sheet. The flying Argentine brought a different approach for an Atleti midfield that was overpopulated with central midfielders.
- Jan Oblak conceded his third goal of the season so far but despite a few half chances, wasn’t really threatened as the home side were happy to sit on their lead.
- Filipe Luis had a strong showing and launched attacks down his infamous left flank but without the presence of an out and out winger his attempts at getting his side back in to the game were limited.
- Koke’s absence was really noticeable as the lack of invention from the midfield ultimately meant that Atleti never really had a platform from which to kick on from and try to claw back some points.
- Gabi made his 200th Atleti appearance against Villarreal and he has been a perfect example of everything it means to be associated with the club – we hope to see el capi once again hoisting a red and white scarf over our patron saint Neptuno in the near future!