Player ratings: Atleti miss chance to go top of La Liga

We analyse the players performances in disappointing late loss at Málaga

Torres bemoans his luck in Málaga defeat

Torres bemoans his luck in Málaga defeat

Atlético Madrid needed just a point against Málaga to take top spot in La Liga ahead of the winter break, but fell to a disappointing defeat as a late Diego Godín own goal gave the home side all three points.

It was something of a nightmare before Christmas for the rojiblancos, who played the last half an hour or so with 10 men after Gabi was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Read on to see our ratings for each player.

Jan Oblak – 7 (Man of the Match)

Made one particularly outstanding save to deny Charles in the first half and was solid throughout, conceding in desperately unlucky circumstances. Didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.

Juanfran – 6

Energetic as always on the wing, but can’t remember him making one telling cross all evening (lack of attacking options perhaps a reason). Did make important goalline clearance in the first half, but it ultimately counted for nothing.

Diego Godín – 5

Nothing he could do about the own goal, but Atleti didn’t look as solid in defence as usual with a few nervy moments both before and after the red card. Made a few uncharacteristic mistakes.

Josema Giménez – 6 

Our best defender on the night, but still not at the level we had gotten used to him up until recently. Mainly decisive with his actions, which is good to see after a slightly unconvincing few weeks.

Filipe Luís – 5

Not his night. Was badly out of position for the goal that saw Charles find acres of space on Málaga’s right, and was given a tough time on the whole by Amrabat. Booking rules him out of trip to Rayo after Christmas.

Gabi – 5

Only made the trip today after his duty at the general elections, and even before the red card was out of sorts. Camacho and Recio played our midfield at their own game, and bought the sending off that probably decided the match.

Saúl Ñíguez – 5 

Could’ve done with a little more experience and know how in his position today, as he struggled to impose himself against Málaga’s tenacious midfield. First game we’ve really missed Tiago in since his injury.

Koke – 6

Worked hard and tried, to his credit, to get the team moving, but had very little in terms of support and was on his own a lot of the time. Would like to see him drop back to central midfield in Gabi’s absence next week at Rayo.

Yannick Carrasco – 6 

He could do no wrong a few weeks back after a scintillating run of form, but has showed his frustrating side and lack of experience in recent matches with some poor decisions and touches. Still, worked hard but had no luck in attack.

Antoine Griezmann – 5 

Apart from on a couple of occasions, he didn’t show up for large parts of the game tonight. Atleti look to him to make the difference in attack, but on nights like this, you really have to wonder what the alternative is if he isn’t firing.

Luciano Vietto – 5

Got a silly booking and looked frustrated before being taken off at half-time. Perhaps understandably given the lack of support, but it’s clear he needs to play alongside a proper number nine rather than with another second striker.


Fernando Torres – 6 

Almost created a goal out of nothing after a great run but was foiled by Kameni. Looked to make things happen but just look shot for confidence. 17 games now without a goal, the wait for the century goes on.

Thomas Partey – 5

Showed glimpses of his talent, but also his inexperience which may ultimately prevent him from succeeding with Atleti. Could be accused of not covering Charles for the goal with Filipe out of position, and gave away a needless foul on the edge of the box.

  • Arjit Barua

    I thought torres was one of few who actually played well. We actually created more chances with a man down because of him.

  • Kris

    Come on man, Diego Godin was better than a 5, the guy plays well even when the team is playing bad. True captain.
    I don’t know if its just me but Juanfran has had a dip in form after October, and though once I said, Gamez should never be put on the pitch again some time ago, his limited performances have impressed me. Maybe Juanfran needs to be aware that his position can very well be taken by another man. Last two matches have been two to forget, let’s play a better one next game. Aupa Atleti.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    If I had Gamez as my sub, I would definitely take my spot for granted !
    Manquillo must come back next season, and I will be very disappointed if he didn’t.
    Meanwhile, if Juanfran isn’t available or he needs some rest, I think Savic should be his replacement, I’ve seen him on the right back with Fiorentina couple of times and he was fine, and he plays in that position almost all the time with Montenegro .

  • Ringo

    Yeah Torres was one of the ups

    That dribble he almost scored from was really sweet.
    He does try to change directions inside the box too much though, he pretty much does it constantly but it always costs him the ball 🙁

  • Koke

    In a way it’s almost good we lost this game. Everybody, including Simeone, seemed to be unaware that this team has serious problems. We were all being fooled by our flattering position in the league.

    There is something seriously wrong with our attack and our midfield. Everyone knows that Atleti has the best defense in the world, that’s indisputable, but at this point, for a team as big as we are now, our play going forward simply should not be so abysmal. Most average teams in La Liga can keep possession against us. Our midfield is great at defending, but completely impotent at creating. When was the last time Koke has successfully played a through ball? In the 2013-2014, it seemed like he was able to play 3 or 4 per game to Diego Costa. Now he seems all alone when trying to create, and nothing ever gets done. Griezmann should spend more time waiting on the line of the last defender, trying to get in behind, but he always has to drop deep because the midfield can’t do anything alone. WE NEED OLIVER TORRES TO GET MORE MINUTES.

    Why is Simeone so stubborn? Playing three CMs at the same time is never going to work well; at least one has to be more creative/attacking. It reminds me of Spain in the last 5 years when VDB insisted on playing Xavi-Busquets-Alonso in every game and as a result Spain could only win games by 1 goal all the time. The thing is, those players are still much more creative than ours and yet Simeone stills tries the same strategy.

    Literally almost every single game this season we’ve won by 1 goal. The result is always 1-0 or 2-1. Maybe 2-0 if we’re lucky. I’m not saying we have to be scoring 8 goals a game frequently like Real Madrid, or that 1-0 wins aren’t incredibly valuable (they are 3 points after all), but it seems like every game we win, we fail to kill it off and then spend the last 5 minutes defending for our lives while the opponent pressures us. Who would have thought that an attack of Carrasco-Griezmann-Jackson/Torres/Vietto would prove so ineffective? It’s simply embarrassing when a team of our budget and with our players has a much worse attack than the likes of Villareal, Rayo Vallecano, and other teams that use other teams’ loanees and fringe players and recycle their squads every year.

    If I don’t see more of Oliver Torres and Angel Correa in the next five games I will be angry. Poor boys must sit on the bench every game knowing they’re among the most talented youngsters in the world and wondering what on earth they have to do to get a start. What really scares me is that eventually players like Oliver, Correa, Griezmann, Carrasco will want to leave. I bet playing such defensive football isn’t exciting to them, and they will end up going to bigger teams that will give them freedom if Simeone doesn’t change his tactics.

    Sorry for the rant.

  • nitesh

    Its very clear we are missing a creative midfielder , We have to break the bank at any cost to get that player in January transfer window. That is going to be the difference between us winning any title or finishing runners up. Every pass in the final third was disappointing.
    Also because of this, apart from Grizi who can make goals for himself in the box, there is no other goalscorer for whom ball has to be served on the plate.

  • BlasiusMagnus

    we already have that creative midfielder… it’s oliver, but cholo can’t use him.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Almost a month ago I said that Simeone doesn’t deserve a player like Oliver, and he actually was having more minutes then !!
    It’s not just that he isn’t using him, but it seems that he is looking for another playmaker, we have been linked with Gaitan who -in my opinion- is just a normal player who will cost much more than he really worth since he is at Benfica and is represented by Jorge Mendes .

    Every time I talk about our financial issues some people argue with me using numbers for our budget and our debt from 6 or 7 years ago, so let me say that our debt for the tax authorities right now is 45 million after it reached 360 million, our budget for 2015-16 is 194.6 million, according to our official website, Villarreal’s is 96 million, also according to their official website, Rayo’s is much less .
    We are ranked 15th in Europe in terms of both income and value, according to respected sources like Deloitte .
    So yeah, you are right, we are not a poor club or with a huge debt anymore, so we should stop looking like we are .

  • nitesh

    yes , i agree, Oliver can do that job and he has shown glimpses of it many a time..but he is too young now for being that match decider or playmaker in tight games. He wont be that very consistent in every game. We need someone who is quite experienced at the age between 24 to 30 , that is were creative mids are at their peak converting draws to wins.But it will be very hard to get one in midseason. Oliver can surely be the deputy or play in tandem with the guy.

  • AndersAT

    I totally agree. I think the reason that Oliver doesn’t play as a starter is that he has shown no signs of being better than the current starters in training or matches. He is still young and has a lot of potential, but being top dog in Porto is not the same as making it in Atletico. But I think in time both him and correa will get their chances and become important players. The real problem is that we are playing with one attacker. Let’s face it Torres, Vietto and Martinez is way of Costas level from 13/14. A more prominent striker would have given 7-10 more goals and then the picture would be very different. Martinez is really set to flop, and he is actually quite old. And Vietto should hit the gym if he want to be a top striker. But who would be better, obviously we can’t get a top striker in January.

  • nitesh

    yes, indeed we are playing with only one striker. Grizi looks to be a only shining light. Only if costa could come back. Costa was completely different beast being mobile striker full of running with pressing as well as using body strength like drogba to completely outmuscle the marker. Jackson is proving to be just like Mandzukic , in fact he looks to be more static than him , at first i thought he can a fox in the box kind of guy who can finish any pass in the box but his confidence is fucked up .he could not make simple tap-ins. At the moment , Vietto looks a better option than Jackson.

  • nitesh

    Also there is no aerial attack from the strikers now unlike last 2 season when Costa and Mandzukic used to win many aerial duels and head in goals. Grizi and Vietto are not capable of winning headers because of their physicality so it was upto Jackson to head in the crosses . Jackson signing has been a big let down so far.

  • Mrtn

    As some already said our position on the table hides some serious problems in our gameplay.

    The extremely low number of goals conceded is the result of defendeing with 11 men constantly, using players like Griezman, Carrasco or Torres etc. as defensive midfielders. Actually, everyone is a defensive midfielder in our squad who is not a defender or a goalkeeper .

    At least 2 of our 3 “attackers” go back defending 20-25 meters from our goal line allowing Cholo to use a 5 men defensive midfield wall. It’s a miracle Grizi still managed to score this much as he has to cover 75-80 m on the pitch when we “attack”.

    This also puts the lack of a creative mifdielder into a different perspective as we could buy every playmaker on the whole planet still we won’t score goals as all Cholo wants is defending to death.
    Look at this season: we spent about 80 M on attackers and score less than last year.
    Spending big on a creative midfielder doesn’t solve anything as long as Cholo is the manager.
    Also, I think we have to admit that we are very lucky, every game this season we won by 1 goal was in danger many times, lucky we got another world-class keeper and Cholo magic…

    I am sorry for this whole situation as I really like Cholo as a person, also admire him as a coach, but I feel we could do better with somebody else. Don’t forget: we are not a small team with small budget, we are one of Europe’s heaviest spenders for years. Cholo spent about 250 M Euros since his arrival…
    One thing that is really positive about this season is that we are 2nd in the league after 16 games played despite we failed to put together 1 single match. Really, I can’t remember Atleti playing well this season any game, not even Sevilla or Astana where we scored goals. I honestly couldn’t imagine being 2nd in the table playing this bad, but let’s hope everyone steps up in the 2nd half of the season and we win the league!

    Vamos Atleti

  • BlasiusMagnus

    yeah, i agree, he is young, etc… but i think as long as we play this ‘all out defence’ tactic, we could sign anyone, it won’t give us boost. a creative playmaker needs free hands, but as long as all of our midfielders are playing box to box, we won’t see any improvements.

  • Chewie

    Screw the game. Let’s talk about the rumours. Augusto Fernandez of Celta is said to have signed a contract with us, coming in in January. Kranevitter’s deal seems sealed too, and he also is arriving in the winter transfer window. And then there’s the tale of Chelsea and Simeone. Next season is going to be very interesting.

  • Andras Toth

    It was a big chance, but to be honest, there were at least two games where we were lucky to come away with 3 points, of course there was the Deportivo game where we had that 3 points in our hand, and a silly mistake came from nowhere. All in all it is a good position to be in, I think most of us would have signed it before the season… But Cholo must find the way to solve the Tiago injury, because with him after one month Atleti started to play like they can, just look at the Valencia game. To be honest I don’t know how good Augusto is, but after this game I am pretty sure that Cholo is right, and even with all the talent we have we need men in midfield..

  • AndersAT

    I agree, not that much too be unhappy about. I am looking forward to Kranevitter. I don’t know much about Augusto but Celta has been sensational this year. I think it is fine too bring in some experience, and let the best man play. I am more excited about the Costa – Jackson swap rumour. I don’t know if i buy it, but if Costa is not Hiddink’s kind of player I see no reason why it shouldn’t be possible. Costa isn’t in the form of his life, but then again none of the Chelsea players are, that doesn’t make them poor football players, and we know he can score a lot of goals in Spain.