Madrid remains red and white. Just about. A late Vietto goal saved the mattress makers from a narrow defeat to eternal rivals Real Madrid and ensured that the undefeated streak against them in La Liga stretches to six matches in a row.
An imposing mosaic greeted the red and white warriors as they took to the field and the electric atmosphere wasn’t affected by Madrid’s early goal.
Some slack defending from Filipe Luis gave Carvajal half the chance he needed to float in an inviting cross to the box which allowed Benzema to score his third ever goal against Atleti.
The quality of the game wasn’t as spectacular as previous encounters have been and the usual explosiveness that the fixture normally throws up was most definitely missed.
An unconvincing Atleti performance was spared its blushes after a rather unconvincing player (so far), Vietto, snatched a stalemate from the jaws of defeat.
Pantomime villain Arbeloa, who had fired some very unsubtle shots at Atleti midweek, was left to eat his own words after his poor display of footwork out on the wing was punished by Carrasco.
The Belgian then picked out Martinez and the panther pounced on the opportunity to whip a ball into the danger zone.
Griezmann, who had been fairly anonymous all game, popped up in the box and managed to cause enough trouble to set up a golden chance for second half sub Viett to grab his first Atleti goal.
Vietto, just to add to the suspense, poked the ball just inside Navas’ post and brought the game level. It was the 10th goal conceded by Keylor Navas in a Madrid shirt – five of those have been scored by Atleti.
The international break must be used wisely as this has to be the point where Los Rojiblancos kick on now and show themselves to be real challengers for silverware.
Post-game notes and quotes
Simeone: “We feel we were close to winning”
“In the first half, barring the opening 10 minutes, we had two very important chances, one from Correa and the penalty.”
“They got the goal and this allowed them to become more comfortable and also meant that we had to break down an already tough opponent.”
“We started the second half brightly with a good chance for Torres.”
“We drew the game up and Navas made a great save to stop us from taking all three points in the end.”
“I feel we had more than them up front and we leave the game disappointed not to get all three points.”
Lucianno Vietto talked to the press fresh from scoring his first Atleti goal.
“I am very happy to finally get off the mark for Atleti. We were close to scoring again but bringing the game back level after spending most of the game behind is important.”
“They had a strong first half but we came out on top in the second and were unlucky not to have scored more than once.”
Right as rain
The right flank was influential in both attack and defence yet again as Juanfran put in another strong performance.
In a game riddled with poor touches and misplaced passes it was the flying right back that was providing consistency and assurance on the ball.
Ever since Simeone converted Juanfran from an attacking winger to a right back the Spaniard has made the position his own and has put in match winning performances on a scarily constant level ever since and this has not stopped for the 2015/16 campaign.
With the departure of Arda Turan, Juanfran has had to step up make sure he is a constant outlet on the right flank and he did this confidently against Madrid.
The 30-year-old playing against his former employers demonstrated how important he is to the success of Atleti and heads off to provide the same security for the national team this weekend.
Man with a plan
Normally these talking points are reserved for players but I feel the Madrid game highlighted the astuteness of our lion on the sidelines, chieftain Cholo.
Simeone has come under some criticism in recent months, largely due to his allergy of rotation, but as his squad has been shaken up drastically this season, the Argentine’s made more right decisions than wrong.
Sunday night’s result was orchestrated by Simeone as all his subs combined to level the game up and it’s not the first time that the coach’s decisions have changed the course of matches so far this season.
Cholo has brought in exciting young prospects from both transfers and also the famed cantera that are all of a level which will no doubt keep Atleti challenging for titles in the future but the process of bedding them in and operating coherently in line with the Atleti way will take longer than a pre-season.
Simeone and his right hand man Mono Burgos – who should take as much credit as Simeone – are much more than eccentric sideline cheerleaders and have big plans for our club.
The final thoughts
- Godin was exceptional at the back and didn’t have a second to switch off as the early goal meant Atleti were chasing and consequently left short at the back.
- Gimenez mirrored his compatriot Godin’s performance as the young Uruguayan was effective in snuffing out any Real Madrid break outs.
- Carrasco had a tremendous second half cameo appearance and posed questions that Arbeloa simply couldn’t answer. His lanky stature allows him to glide over the pitch and blessed with lightening pace is a constant headache for full backs.