Gaitán steals the show on Atlético debut

Argentine on target as rojiblancos win 2-0 against Serie A new boys Crotone

Gaitán slots home the opener in Cosenza

Gaitán slots home the opener in Cosenza

Nico Gaitán has had to wait for his Atlético debut, and after missing the tour of Australia, he took the chance with both hands against Crotone on Saturday night.

Having cancelled their original friendly against Galatasaray due to safety fears, Cholo’s men took on the Italian side and were 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Gaitán and Diogo Jota.

The game started slowly, and although Atleti took control from the start they were struggling to break down the home side in the Stadio Ezio Scida.

Thomas saw a shot fly just wide and Saúl and Santos Borré also had half chances, but there was little else to speak of in a first half that could best be summed up as your typical pre-season friendly match.

However, Simeone ringed the changes during the break and introduced some attacking flair in Gaitán and Carrasco, who would go on to combine for the opening goal just before the hour mark.

After picking up the ball in his own half, the Belgian charged forward and shaped to shoot, but instead played in Nico Gaitán to finish and claim a debut goal to put the rojiblancos into the ascendancy.

With Koke, Augusto, Juanfran and Lucas also on, chances became more and more frequent and Atleti began opening up last season’s Serie B runners up with more ease.

Juanfran should’ve scored after being played in by the excellent Gaitán, and Torres was denied by Crotone ‘keeper Cordaz after a delightful outside of the boot ball from Saúl to split the defence.

The second goal finally arrived with more or less the last kick of the match, another substitute and new signing Diogo Jota getting in on the act as he pounced on a sloppy back pass and slotted home.

It was a cool finish from the 18 year-old who did well to keep his calm, but it will be our other import from Portugal – Gaitán – who takes the headlines.

His arrival has been somewhat overshadowed by our search for a striker, but the former Benfica man looked at home in the Atleti line-up, providing threat out wide and a link between midfield and attack.

The goal was just the cherry on top of a man of the match performance, with he and Carrasco both showing their class with a number of majestic pieces of skill and finesse.

Next up is the Trofeo Carranza in a week’s time, where we will finish pre-season with friendlies against hosts Cádiz and either Málaga or the Nigerian All-Stars.

Did you watch the match? How do we fit Griezmann, Gaitán, Gameiro and Carrasco into one XI?


  • atleti10

    Gaitan and Agusto impressed. I don’t know why Gaitan played on the right though, he needs to be able to go outside his man and get a cross in. Anyway he’s a quality player.

    Torres and Carrasco weren’t good.

  • Kris

    We fit Griezmann,Gaitan,Gameiro and Carrasco into one XI by benching Saul, and playing Koke and Gabi or Augusto together.

    But we don’t need to fit all four of them together though, fitting just three of them together would be a step towards the right direction from a highly defensive approach. We don’t need drastic changes, like going from four CMs to one CM or even two CMs. That would be like going from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders, and that could fuck things up really quick.

    We could start with moderate changes like benching one of the CMs, and in his place, adding a player with offensive capabilities(Gaitan). Don’t get me wrong man, but Saul and Koke are not as good as Gaitan when it comes to attacking, because that’s NOT where they should be playing. Their playing style SCREAMS central midfielder, but Simeone keeps opting for them to play “out wide”(no such thing in this team in a pure sense, but for the sake of explanation). And against what some may consider “lesser” teams, we can just use two CMs, instead of three.

    We have so much quality in every single one of our players in the squad, that we are gonna need to rotate a lot to keep them happy. Rotation is going to be key in the way our season goes, and I hope El Cholo rotates to answer the needs of the particular match we are playing, instead of just a regular XI that he “trusts.”

    I don’t really expect the midfielders who started the second half to all play together, but it would be quite something. Augusto Fernandez was a total badass in the midfield, and looked like one with the beard. Koke was BORN to play in that role he was playing today. As much as Simeone would like to change Saul to another position, he can not play any other position as good as he can a CM who can run up and down the pitch.

    At the moment, the only undisputed starters in the team are Griezmann, Godin, Oblak, and (maybe) Filipe. So, it’s really hard to predict a Starting XI for this team. But be ready boys and girls, this season is gonna be exciting. We have fantastic depth for every position in the squad, and we will definitely start seeing a more attacking minded Atletico. Very pumped for the season to start.

    P.S. Santos Borre is a fantastic signing. He was doing all the right things in this game, he may end up staying this season but at the moment he needs more than anything, game time. Possibly at a Liga club where he has chances of settling in as a regular.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    “Maybe Filipe” ?!! .. who else do we have on the left back ?!
    Vrsaljko ?! .. we have seen how uncomfortable he was on the left against Spain in the EURO . We have seen how most right-footed full backs are uncomfortable on the left, Gamez never offered anything at attack when he played on the left, well, except his throw-ins, in 2014 against Almeria, Manquilo played on the left in the first half, then in the second Juanfran switched places with him, and I can’t really tell who was worse .
    Lucas is left-footed, but his younger brother made us realize that he is not a LB .
    And that younger brother was loaned out few days ago .

    Filipe is not a superman, he is a normal 31-year-old human being (his birthday is next Tuesday) who fell down in Lisbon & Milan finals .

    We spent the second half of last season and will spend all this season with only one natural LB, and while I stopped trying to understand some of the weird decisions of Simeone, I really can’t understand the silence of the fans, it seems that I’m the only one who is addressing that big problem !!

  • Kris

    Yup, exactly why i added the maybe in parentheses, because he shouldn’t be the undisputed starter, and he ends up being overused, every single fucking season. He should have competition and rotation, but he just doesn’t. I absolutely considered your sentiments, and I remember many people, before we signed Vrsaljko, calling for an LB signing. Maybe they became content with the club advertising him as a “versatile” full back?

    Man the only other left back that we’ve had good enough to play for Atletco in (most)recent memories is Ansaldi. He was an ideal back-up and could even make a case for a starter, but some shit happened and the club wasn’t transparent about the situation.

    Do you have any suggestions for a left back who’s willing to play (at least initially) as a back up? I don’t understand how Gamez was starting over Siqueira as well. I mean Siqueira was decent…

  • Ringo

    Siqueira was decent after playing ten games in a row, but if you have Filipe that’s not going to happen. Anything before that number is too much chaos. Especially in Simeone tactics that just doesn’t cut it.

    Gámez had some stability without rhythm. He needed rhythm for offensive skills, but at least he offered something else after having been left out of the team for a while.

    For now we have vrsaljko as a cover for both (with Savic and Lucas as second reserves i guess) wingbacks. I’m not going to judge him on the few euro minutes but I have to say I don’t know him. Just heard good things about him and our scouts tend to be quite decent.

    So yeah let’s wait and see. Our team looks swell so far.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Yes, Siqueira was descent when he played regularly, and he is a good LB, if he wasn’t he wouldn’t have played for Benfica, Atleti & Valencia, and wouldn’t have interest from Juve (even if they were just rumors) .

    But Simeone has all the right to not depend on him, I understand that, but what I don’t understand is letting him leave for almost nothing after signing him for 10 million .
    He probably will repeat the same mistake and sell a jewel like Oliver very cheaply .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I can’t think of many names right now, but I’ve always liked Ricardo Rodriguez, I even wanted to sign him last summer instead of bringing Filipe back, probably that would have been a mistake, since Filipe was one of our best players last season, I admitted that, but still, 17 million for a 30-year-old full back is too much for not so rich club like us .

    Now I’m not sure if Rodriguez would accept to be a back-up at Atleti instead of a starter at Wolfsburg, and I’m also not sure if we can match his salary there, Wolfsburg pay high salaries .

    But forget about Rodriguez, there must be some left-footed Vrsaljkos playing for some other Sassuolos and would be very happy to set on our bench and wait for their chances, but we are just not looking, not even with a transfer ban on the horizon !!!

  • Hannu

    I quess Oliver will be gone and now that Borja is going to Swansea we have two talented own boys going and both will make Atleti look just stupid.

  • Karlp

    The 2nd half is one of the most attacking play I’ve seen from atleti in a long time.

    I really like this 4-3-3, probably because Gaitan gells so well with the team. Please don’t play Koke in the wing anymore, he does good in the middle. And Augusto should be the 1 DM we play.

    If we still play 4-3-3, I want to keep the midfield and front as,
    Koke – Augusto – ?
    Griez – Torres/Gameiro – Gaitan

    Torres link up well with the team, but he’s not the best choice anymore. Hope Gameiro can adapt to the team as fast as Gaitan. And for the other midfield spot, we need some technical player that can break the line, like Iniesta/Isco. I don’t think Saul fits that place, Oliver although technical is not the fastest player. I would really try Jota in that place. For the 15mins he was given, I think he shows potential and a cool finish for the goal (although it was given, there’s still some works to do).

  • nandes

    Hard to sell Oliver for a high price now when he spent the latter half of last season watching games from home/the stands. Maybe after his season at Porto (and if Simeone had already realized it was dumb to try and turn him into Arda Turan) we could’ve sold him for 25+ but not now… That’s why I could see us loaning him again – to bring his price up, because most likely he won’t return here anymore

  • Urban

    Jordan Amavi is a great great talent who really did well in Aston Villa before his injury. Would be a great signing as Filipe’s deputy

  • Usavicente Calderon

    This gives me a real positive vibe. If we add 20 goals to our season, we should see some silverware.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Renewing Oliver’s contract (I believe it expires in 2018) and loaning him to a bigger club and bigger League than Porto and the Portuguese league (BVB, Arsenal & Liverpool sound like perfect fits) so his price could significantly increase, that would be the smart move .

    But Atleti are very very dumb when it comes to selling players, there are too many examples, but I will give just one :
    Valencia sold Otamendi for £32 M .
    Villarreal sold Bailly for £32 M .
    Atleti sold Alderweireld for £11.5 M .
    Toby was voted Tottenham’s player of the season in almost all awards and polls .. we spent more than those 11.5 M on Savic .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Most of the fans and the media are talking about the 4-3-3, but I prefer 4-2-3-1, with this plan both Gaitan & Carrasco can start :
    ——– Gabi – Koke ——
    — Gaitan -Grizi – Carrasco —
    ———- Gameiro ——
    (in that order, left-footed Gaitan on the right, and right-footed Carrasco on the left)

    Or 4-2-2-2, or call it 4-4-2, but with those same players .
    I really believe that the type of players you have on the pitch is more important than the formation you use .
    Egypt won 3 African cups in a row with 3-5-2, and we were more offensive and scored more goals than other teams that used 4-3-3 and 4-4-2, because we had a very great group of players .

    Saul, just like Tiago & Augusto has to rotate with Gabi & Koke .
    And I really don’t see a place for Thomas, if I don’t think Koke and Saul are creative enough then I definitely don’t think that Thomas is . He is a CM, and we have 5 of those this season .

    But what do I know .. I’m just a pharmacist .

  • Karlp

    that last line though …. LOL

    well in some way formation isn’t that important, but I can see that if we play 4-4-2, either Koke or Saul will play as a winger again. Because in some ways, those 2 and Gabi are kinda untouchable. And if we play koke/saul as a winger again while we currently have 3 proper wingers, that’s just sad.

    And the reason I pick Augusto over Gabi is because the previous one is more comfortable as a lone DM. While, if we partner Gabi/Tiago with Koke, the defensive part will be a job for two.

  • atleti10

    Beyond me how an Atletico Madrid fan can say formation is less important than the players you have. The team cohesion and a defensive 442 are what won Atletico the league and got us to 2 champions league finals. Barca, Real, Bayern, PSG had better players, we had a better system.

    Carrasco is not better than Saul, he’s an impact player at the moment. Last season his form dropped when he became a starter. A 433 with Koke, Saul and Gabi/Tiago is the best option. Otherwise we’ll see a 442 with Koke or Saul being forced out wide. Gaitan, Griez and Torres/Gameiro upfront with Saul joining from deep, I can see Saul getting on the end of numerous Gaitan crosses and Griezmann pull backs. I think Gaitan needs to play on the left, both number 9s, Griezmann and Saul are good in the air and Gaitan is probably the best crosser in the league.

  • nandes

    And now Borja for a rumored 17+ M while Real Madrid sold Jesé for 25 M… Meanwhile some fans still think we

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    It’s actually very simple, the formation is important, 4-4-2 was a key for our success, especially in the 6 games against Barca in 2014, but were we the only team in Spain or Europe that used that formation ?! absolutely not, many other teams used it but did not achieve the same success .
    We had the players for 4-4-2 back then, but now we don’t, replacing Arda with Thomas is a very bad joke, Saul is not as effective as Raul Garcia, even if the whole world considers him a superstar .

    Now if you can’t fit Gaitan, Carrasco, Grizi & Gameiro all together in the starting XI with 4-4-2 then you have to change it or you shouldn’t have signed all the three of Gaitan, Carrasco & Correa in the first place, you should have went for 4-4-2 type of players .

    About Saul and Carrasco, no other Atleti fan has criticized Carrasco more than me, and many of you hated me for that, but Carrasco is a real winger, Saul is not .
    This is what I said several times about Carrasco :
    “A great dribbler, a great sprinter, an average footballer” .
    His finish product last season, was very poor, was awful, but it can get much better with a little work, because he got what it takes to be a great winger, but I think Saul doesn’t . He got what it takes to be a world-class CM or box-to-box midfielder, and one of those should be his position .

    I strongly doubt that Saul can repeat his golazo against Bayern, but we have seen Carrasco many times last season dribbling 3 or 4 defenders, but then his ball ends up in the stands or a throw-in or a miss pass or he loses it to the 5th defender .
    But I believe in the kid, he is young and still has a big room for improvement, but if he didn’t improve and start to produce more goals and more assists then we should get rid of him and look for another winger, but not Saul .

    That’s my opinion .

  • atleti10

    Neither Koke or Arda are wingers yet they were employed out wide and we won the league.

    Simeone favours wide midfielders over wingers, it gives us a more compact shape. If both wide men are on playingetting on their natural side they have a tendency to drive to the wings, Simeone wants them to cut inside and narrow the pitch letting the fullbacks over lap. I just don’t see him changing. As you mentioned Carrascos end product is very poor, I’m a fan of him but he’s not good enough to start imo.