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?