Atlético Madrid were winners against Tottenham Hotspur in their second match of pre-season on Friday, with a first half goal from Diego Godín separating the sides in Melbourne.
Having arrived only yesterday after a gruelling 28 hour journey including two stops, the red and whites braved the jetlag and grinded out a hard-fought win over the English side.
Much of the pre-match attention surrounded managers Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino, former Argentina teammates both now making names for themselves in the dugout – albeit with rather contrasting styles.
Cholo opted to send out his strongest available XI, and although the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Koke and Yannick Carrasco, the Australian crowd got the chance to see Fernando Torres amongst other household names.
It was the team from North London who started the stronger though, their extra preparation showing as they looking to put Atleti on the back foot right from the first whistle.
Just 10 minutes in, Josh Onomah hammered a shot off of the crossbar after a corner wasn’t dealt with. Erik Lamela then went close midway through the half, but he hit the post after being played through on goal.
Despite the pressure, Simeone’s men took the lead in typical fashion just before the break. Diego Godín was the goalscorer, sidefooting past goalkeeper Michel Vorm after a clever free-kick found him unmarked at the back post.
Much of the second half followed a similar pattern, and Atlético had Jan Oblak to thank as Spurs twice came within inches of the equaliser before the hour mark..
Substitute Ryan Mason almost found the net just minutes after coming on, but saw his shot repelled by the big Slovenian after good work by Vincent Janssen.
Janssen then came close from a free-kick, but the right hand of Oblak was outstretched again to deny him and tip the ball behind for a corner.
On another day, Pochettino’s side could’ve gone away with a convincing win but were left ruing their luck, unable to get the goal they probably deserved against a stern defence.
Eventually, the game fizzled out as both sides introduced the usual pre-season deluge of substitutions, as Atleti soaked up the Tottenham pressure and looked to hit on the counter.
Youngsters Caio Henrique, Juan Moreno and Amath Diedhiou all made bright cameos from the bench, particularly the latter with a couple of late efforts that weren’t far from finding the net.
Next up, the team travels to nearby Geelong where they will face Melbourne Victory on Sunday, before flying back to Madrid to continue preparations the day after.
Australian rojiblancos, did you go to the match? What did you make of the performance?