Atlético Madrid put in a five-star performance against Sporting Gijón on Saturday afternoon, with Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres and Kevin Gameiro on target in a 5-0 win at the Calderón.
The rojiblancos ran riot from the first whistle, with the French pairing in attack linking up on another occasions and wreaking havoc in the visitors’ defence with their direct running and clever movement.
Cholo opted for an attacking line-up, starting both Gaitán and Carrasco out wide with Saúl and Koke holding the midfield. Sime Vrsaljko also made his debut at right-back, with Juanfran and Gabi rested.
Griezmann it was who opened the scoring, latching on to a poke forward from Gameiro before taking the ball into his stride and calmly finishing to put Atleti into the lead within 90 seconds.
Gameiro deserved great credit for his hustle on the wing to create the chance, and got his reward three minutes later with a goal of his own, curling into the top corner past the despairing dive of Pichu Cuellar.
He could’ve had a second goal shortly after, but was denied by the linesman for the first of two offside goals when Filipe and Griezmann combined to give him a tap in. Replays showed that the decision was wrong.
However, we did have the third before half-time and it was that man Griezmann again who was celebrating. The former Real Sociedad man was again allowed to charge forward, before unleashing a fearsome drive into the top corner from outside the box.
With a trip to the Camp Nou on Wednesday, Cholo was afforded the chance to rest players in the second half. Fans rose on the eighteenth minute to sing his name after news this week that his contract had been shortened to 2018.
On came Correa and Torres, who combined for goal number four after a great run from the Argentine. He squared for our number nine, who ghosted in at the front post to score his first goal of the season.
He doubled his tally in injury time, stepping up to the spot after Nico Gaitán had been hacked down in the box by Sporting defender Lillo. It was a confident finish from Torres, sending Cuellar the wrong way to make it 5-0.
Atleti had their critics after drawing their first two matches of the season, but have well and truly found their stride now with three wins, ten goals and four clean sheets in a row
The red and whites will travel to Barcelona full of confidence, and although it is early in the season, they will know that this is a match that could go a long way to determining where the title goes in May.
Jan Oblak – 6
Seems harsh to only give him a 6 after such a great team performance, but the team gave him very little to do. Made one save in the first half which he made look routine.
Sime Vrsaljko – 7
Impressive debut. Very energetic and enthusiastic, providing a good outlet on the right. Looks solid in defence as well – Juanfran’s successor?
Diego Godín – 7
Made one important block in the second half to secure the clean sheet, followed by a surging foray forward much to the fans delight (albeit it came to nothing).
Stefan Savic – 7
The wall. If Vrsaljko is the successor to Juanfran, he may well be the successor to Godín. So assured and decisive with everything he does, in the team on merit at the moment.
Filipe Luís – 7
Has taken on a lot of attacking responsibility in recent matches, but had the burden lifted a little as the whole team chipped in. Still played well, particularly in the first half linking up well with Carrasco.
Koke – 8
One of his best matches for Atleti in centre-midfield. If him and Saúl are our future in this position, the signs are positive judging by today. Had more touches than anyone else on the field, very sharp with his passing and on the ball.
Saúl Ñíguez – 7
Slotted in alongside Koke and did most of the defensive work, going about his business quietly and confidently. His 100th game for the club, and he gets more important with each one he plays.
Yannick Carrasco – 7
Taken off at half-time, but was positive and lively in the time that he played. Unlucky to hit the post with a rasping drive. Much improved on his performances against Celta and PSV.
Nico Gaitán – 7
Took a while to get going, but had an excellent second half and looked to be enjoying himself in the creative role. Great first touch and vision, also did well to win a penalty late on with an intelligent piece of play.
Antoine Griezmann – 8 (Man of the match)
Just gets better and better. Both goals were excellent, and his partnership with Gameiro goes from strength to strength. Teams can’t handle him when he’s in this form.
Kevin Gameiro – 7
Put his misses in recent matches behind him with a fantastic display, first setting up Griezmann before scoring a wonderful curled attempt himself moments later. Love his bustling attacking style, something we’ve lacked since Costa left.
Augusto – 6
Kept things ticking in midfield after a few games out of the squad. Simeone perhaps giving him minutes ahead of a possible start at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, but may have a selection problem given how well Koke and Saúl played.
Ángel Correa – 7
Whilst he ALWAYS makes an impact from the bench whatever the situation, it’s a shame to see him ‘only’ a sub for the time being. Sees the game differently to most others. Great run and pass for Torres’ goal.
Fernando Torres – 7
Struggled in midweek, but will have been boosted massively by the two goals today. Not often he puts himself in the positions to score goals like his first but he finished it well, and converted his penalty confidently. Great to see.
Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?