Player Of The Month – November

Tiago's brilliant pre-injury form enough to earn monthly best player award

Tiago our top November performer

Tiago our top November performer

Atlético Madrid enjoyed another unbeaten month during November, winning four of their five matches as they made headway in La Liga and secured a place in the Champions League last 16.

The rojiblancos continued to struggle in front of goal, but were formidable at the back and didn’t concede a single goal in any of the games they played, as Cholo opted to go back to his tried and tested formula that has brought so much success over the last few years.

However, despite a number of solid defensive showings, our Player of the Month award goes to a midfielder who deserves some recognition for his fine form not just in November, but all season long.

Rojiblancos all around the world let out a collective cry of despair when Tiago was ruled out with a long-term injury against Espanyol a couple of weeks ago, which is testament to just how important he has become for the team.

At the end of last month, the veteran midfielder admitted in an interview that he felt he was playing the best footballer of his career, which makes his broken leg all the more difficult to take.

Just a few years ago, we rarely saw him play more than once a week, but he has been an ever-present this year and is a talisman alongside Gabi at the heart of the team.

At 34, he has defied his years with a string of energetic showings. Filipe Luís called him “the best player in La Liga” after his injury was confirmed, and on current form, you would be hard pressed to argue.

After ending October on the scoresheet with a controlled volley at Deportivo, he started November with a man of the match performance in an otherwise forgettable match at Astana, before helping the team to 1-0 wins over Sporting Gijón and Betis.

He was also key in the 2-0 win over Galatasaray, where Atleti dominated from start to finish and really should have scored more, in what was one of our best attacking displays of the season.

Then came the Espanyol match, where he was forced off in the first half after coming off worse in an innocuous challenge with Marco Asensio, fracturing a bone in his tibia that could see him miss the season and possibly the European Championships.

Cholo’s men have gone on to win their first three matches without Tiago, but his experience and cool head will surely be missed later on down the line.

“Knowing Tiago, tomorrow he’ll be counting down the days until he can play again,” the Argentine boss said when asked about the injury after the game, and the early signs are good. The Portuguese international is set to start light gym work next week.

Reports also suggested last week that the club will also offer him with a new contract, which would be a just reward for everything he has done for the club and ensures that we will get to see him back in the red and white again.

Godín, Griezmann, Oblak and Gabi all enjoyed good months too, but we also wanted to pay tribute to Tiago’s evergreen performances and think it is only fair he wins our monthly accolade for the first time.

How do you feel the team have coped without Tiago so far? Who else impressed you in November?

  • Kris

    Tiago absolutely deserves this. He was in the form of his life before the injury. Hope he recovers well.

    I think the team has coped fairly well without Tiago. Saul has filled in very well, adding a different aspect to the game as a box-to-box midfielder than just a central defensive midfielder. His physical abilities allow him to sprint to the other side of the field, while Gabi stays back and covers for him. I actually prefer this rather than both Gabi and Tiago at the same time as they slow us down in our plays, because of their similar playing styles.

    I would say that Filipe Luis has impressed me very much. He has slowly been regaining his form and can argue that offensively he’s never been this good. He still has room for improvement in his tracking back and defensive duties.

    Koke also is slowly regaining his form, and I am happy about that. We need Koke at his best at all times. Really wished Simeone would drop him back to the center midfield, but this free role that he gets rather than being a winger definitely allows him to play to his potential.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    In Spain they have a term for the last player in the midfield just in front of the defenders, a number five (cinco), like a number nine for a striker and a number 10 for a playmaker .
    I never heard that term in Arabic or English, against Benfica Gabi was a number five, and I really liked him there, and I loved seeing Saul, who is much younger and much talented than both of him and Tiago, having more freedom and playing upfront .
    Giving some freedom to Koke too is also something I like .

    Little by little I’m starting to forgive Filipe, he is regaining some of his old form, but I think some people over appreciate him, some even called him our best player,
    I really think he is still far from that .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Godin was solid as usual, and we owe big part of our clean sheets and those 3 points game after game to him and to Oblak, and of course to the vital goals of Griezmann .
    Gabi’s leadership was very important and very obvious, and we will need it this season more than anytime before with this young group, last week I said I don’t see why not we can fight for La Liga title. we have a great defense that makes just one goal enough to win the 3 points, and we usually get that one goal, sometimes with too much suffering, but we get it, and I also said that Barca will drop points, and here we are, 2 goals from Depor in the last 12 minutes, where did that come from ?!!
    We really have a chance, with the young talents like Oliver, Correa, Saul, Oblak & Carrasco, and the leadership of the veterans like Godin, Juanfran, Koke (a 23-year-old veteran) and captain Gabi .

    On the other hand, I wasn’t very happy with Gimenez, after costing us two points in Riazor, he almost did it again vs Granada, a horrible miss pass when he was the last player and with no pressure whatsoever, nobody talked about that because we won .
    Gimenez needs to concentrate more, and he has to know that there is a great player on the bench called Savic who is ready to switch places with him .

    I really like Savic, I liked him long time before we signed him, after Salah joined Fiorentina I only missed couple of their games, and I really liked him and I even once said to a friend that I wish Atleti sign him .
    I also believe that Simeone should try a Gimenez-Savic combination in some easy games before he is forced to do it in a big one if Godin got suspended or injured .

    What about Oliver, why didn’t anybody talk about him ?!
    The kid was brilliant, he made 2 assists in November (one very important vs Espanyol), and a 3rd one this month, his only 3 this season, which should have been much more if our strikes accepted his gifts, the last one was for Vietto against Reus but he missed a very easy one-on-one .
    Oliver deserves more chances, I know the team is doing well in all 3 competitions, and Simeone did say in the preseason that “the important is not the quantity of the minutes, but the quality” which actually was repeated by Oliver himself few days ago, but yet I’m still concerned that the lack of minutes could make some of our talents seek them somewhere else .
    If I’m not mistaken, Oliver’s agent is the bastard Jorge Mendes, who also owns some of his rights, that’s very worrying for me .