La Liga: Atlético 0 – 0 Espanyol

Quique frustrates the rojiblancos to take a point on his return to the Calderón

Griezmann drew another blank on Saturday night

Griezmann drew another blank on Saturday night

Atlético Madrid were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Espanyol on Saturday, missing the chance to make up ground at the top of La Liga after the teams around them dropped points.

The rojiblancos struggled to break down Quique Sánchez Flores’ side, and had goalkeeper Jan Oblak to thank for a string of fine saves to deny the visitors on the break.

After a moment’s applause for the victims of the Chapecoense air crash ahead of kick-off, the Atleti fans were quick to show their appreciation to Quique for his time at the club and the two trophies he won.

However, the Espanyol boss was in no mood to return the kind gesture, and set up his team to frustrate the red and whites. That they did, with the referee and slippery conditions making for a frustrating night.

The home side dominated possession and were playing some nice stuff in the early stages, albeit without any real chances to show for it.

Griezmann called for a penalty after seeing a shot blocked by Javi Fuego’s elbow, and Gabi saw a long range drive easily caught by Diego López, but that was about as good as it got for the home side.

Just before half-time, Gerard Moreno found himself clear on goal after a nice move involving Piatti and Baptistão, but he was denied by a brilliant save from the onrushing Jan Oblak.

Atleti stepped up the intensity after the break but still, Espanyol were causing danger on the break whilst remaining solid and responsible at the back.

Oblak had to be on guard again to save another 1-on-1, this time from Baptistão who really should’ve found the net against his former side. Thankfully the Slovenian had other ideas.

Gabi then forced Diego López into a smart stop with a volleyed attempt, before Griezmann sent the follow up across the face of goal, inches between the back of the net and Gameiro inside the six yard box.

It’s been two months now since Griezmann last found the net in La Liga, but he really should’ve won the game late on when substitute Gaitán presented him with a golden opportunity.

The Frenchman had a clear sight of goal from around 10 yards out after a cut-back wasn’t cleared, but shot straight at López and without power which gave him the chance to save. Either side though and it would’ve been 1-0.

López made an even better intervention shortly after again from Griezmann to tip his right footed effort onto the crossbar, but it wouldn’t have counted after a foul in the middle from Godín.

Time soon ran out for Atleti, and despite a few nice pieces of play from Correa, Espanyol dealt with everything that was thrown at them fairly comfortably and saw out the result.

After Sevilla’s loss and the draw in El Clásico earlier in the day, this was a match that Atleti really needed to win to kick start their (very feint) title aspirations, but they failed to do so.

In truth, we didn’t deserve the win and if anything, Quique will be coming away from his return from the Calderón feeling that he could’ve taken all three points.

Opposite number Diego Simeone will have a lot to think about as our La Liga form continues to stumble, with a tough trip to Villarreal to come after the dead rubber against Bayern in midweek.

Player ratings

Jan Oblak – 8 (Man of the match)

His two crucial stops were the reason Atleti didn’t lose tonight. Still managing to excel, even if the defence in front of him is probably weaker than it ever has been

Juanfran – 6

Got into the forward positions a lot, but didn’t really do anything once he go there. Vrsaljko must feel a little frustrated to have been left out the squad completely given his midweek goal and performance.

Diego Godín – 6

Have to admire his efforts to try and lead the team to victory, but he seems less concentrated in defence than usual. Often guilty of going wondering and leaving big gaps behind him to be exploited.

Josema Giménez – 6

Very enthusiastic and passionate, but still rash and indecisive at times. Would like to see Cholo mix it up in defence a little more, Savic has performed well and Lucas deserves a run in the team.

Filipe Luís – 6

Has been injured, and at times it showed as he looked a little off the pace. Still probably our best player on the ball, but lost possession more times than usual and wasn’t linking up as well as he usually does.

Gabi – 6

Can’t fault him given that he is not the man tasked of being our creative force. Came closer than anyone with a volleyed attempt that López saved, and was probably the only player to actually put a few decent balls into the box.

Tiago – 6

Like Gabi, he did his job but perhaps this was the type of game where 4-3-3 would’ve been more effective than 4-4-2. Showed class as always, before being sacrificed in the second half.

Koke – 5

Visibly frustrated with his lack of involvement and the team’s shortcomings in attack. Worked hard, but was unable to impose himself and make the quick incisive passes he usually does.

Yannick Carrasco – 6

Have to wonder why he’s often the man to get the hook when we’re looking for a goal, as he’s our top scorer and by far our most dangerous attacking player. Saying that, it wasn’t really his night and Espanyol dealt with him well.

Antoine Griezmann – 5

On probably his biggest drop in form since joining Atleti. Hardly linked up with Gameiro all night, had no space to run in behind, and seemed weak on the ball when he got it. Not the sharp, confident Griezmann we’ve gotten used to.

Kevin Gameiro – 6

His pace is useful and he does a good job holding up the ball and running the channels, but when we need a man inside the box to feed balls into, he’s not the man. Too similar to Griezmann, both were made more or less redundant tonight.

Subs

Nico Gaitán – 6

Feel for Gaitán at the moment. Doesn’t play much, and when he does it’s often in difficult situations where we need a goal. Did fashion the best chance of the match for Griezmann, but still clearly hasn’t found his feet at Atleti yet.

Ángel Correa – 6

Provided something different and had a couple of bright moments to almost unlock the Espanyol defence, but needs to work on his end product and decision making.

Saúl Ñíguez – N/A

Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?


  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I think these ratings are pretty biased in the fact that Gabi could get a 6 and wasn’t even better than Koke… Is that hard to accept?

  • Karlp

    “this was the type of game where 4-3-3 would’ve been more effective than 4-4-2” ??

    I think this game was clearly 4-3-3 when attacking, while we’ve always been 4-4-2 when defending. But with this 4-3-3, the fullback is kinda isolated because carrasco and griez moves to the center more. This makes the fullbacks do some long crosses, which was very ineffective in this type of game.

    We should play 4-4-2 with 2 proper wingers (gaitan/carrasco/correa), so the wingers can make some short crosses from inside the box for the strikers to poach. Like the one Correa and Gaitan tried to do at the end of the game.

  • Roberto

    Cholos,atleti is finished. It would have been better if he left after the San Siro Tragedy. He seems to be tattered. Now Atleti is again playing like they were playing the 30 years before cholo came. Extremely instable and without creativity and confidence. bit his is now not acceptable, because Atleti has in the meanwhile a very strong and expensive team which should stay on a stable 3rd place at the minimum. Its the same team like last year, with just 2 strong players (gaitan and gameiro) more. The holy shit is that also real Madrid and much more Barca are weaker and less dominant and less stable then last season, thus, if atleti would just play that, they did last year, they would be in the lead. And atleti has the advantage that a lot of protagonists are Young and should get stronger every year, real and barca are playing with more and more veterans. Furthermore players like Gabi, Saul, correa and Co did not play the Euro, they should be very fit. There is something going very wrong at atleti. I fear Simeone is not anymore the right man at the right place. If Atleti wants to remain in the Elite of the world for the next decades its time to act. Otherwise it was now a nice era, where atleti again forget to take away the crown of Europe, like in the last great era in the early 70ies, and we have to wait again for decades to have once more the chance to battle for the stars. I am extremely worried.

  • Kris

    Filipe Luis massively underperformed today and it showed. The full backs are extremely important to our game because we don’t play with traditional wingers. Koke has been pretty trash for the job he’s supposed to be doing. Long balls and crosses to the head are very ineffective with 5’8 and 5’9 strikers leading the line. Gaitan should start every game, Koke dropped until he can show he can be effective again. Gameiro needs full 90′, I still believe he could have had a bigger impact than Saul.

    No worries. We still gonna win La Liga and the Champions League. I still trust in Simeone and I am not ungrateful for the performance all our players put out tonight. They all gave 100% and I’m proud of that. the tactics were not up to date with the opponents at hand but I still trust Simeone. Aupa Atleti!

  • AnonX

    Should have done better and a little too late. Knowing that the opponent was emphasizing on not conceding and our chance created in the 1st Half was almost none existence’ the creative and offensive players (Gaitan, Correa) should have been brought right in at the beginning of the 2nd Half.
    The mistake was Simeone expecting a little less than 20 minutes or so that somehow they can conjure up magic and turn the tide when the opponent has already gotten a solid defensive grip of the game and has been successful their previous matches doing so. In this kind of setup, it needs at least 45 minutes to break them down.

    Well, No Gain No Lose.

    A Wasted Opportunity
    (One in which we can’t afford to give away anymore)

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I could see Gameiro and Carrasco were frustrated after being subbed for sure

  • SherbetDip

    and Griezmann got a 5 for playing as badly as he did.

  • Zinni DUDU

    To be honest Gameiro is too similar to Girezmann (as said in the raitings). If you are playing crosses and long balls maybe Torres would be a better option, but not the best one. Buying Gameiro was maybe a mistake. I think players like Cavani or Costa would fit better to our system….

  • SherbetDip

    Don’t think you can over-estimate the psychological effect of the defeat in the CL (the manager and players aren’t machines) or the fact that RM seem to have the whip hand again. Yesterday was an opportunity to get back into the title race and the team flunked it Feels horribly like LFC after they were pipped at the post for the title in 2008-9 and 2013-14, by Manchester United and Manchester City respectively. All that momentum and feeling of inevitability ending up in a win for a hated rival (and for the second time) cannot help but have an impact and you get a sense that the team has lost some of its identity and self-belief at the moment.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Gameiro played in the league 858 Minutes. He is getting his time. For comparison Griezmann played 1.081 Minutes… Would have changed yesterday nothing. He is useless if you try to feed him with crosses

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Also what the fuck is up with subbing Gameiro for Saul with the game in a deadlock and us needing a goal? Awful sub but calling out Simeone on his bullshit seems to get a person chastised more than anything else

  • Roberto

    A team loosing twice with a lot of bad luck has 2 opportunities: loosig self confidence and doing worse in the near future, like atleti does now. The 2 nd opportunity would be to enter into “but now we f…. Them all mode” and to loose completley nervosity, self limiting believes etc. i hoped Atleti is going to take the 2nd option. Especially after the great games against bayern, valencia and barca, and the goal intensive wins against the small teams, but after the 0-1 against sevilla, which as not that bad in this megarainy day, atleti decided to take the loosers exit. Atleti had the best circumstances to go on growing: a lot of young protagonists, attached to the team spirit of atleti (saul, koke, oblak, griesman, corre) combined with older secure guys like gabi, juanfran, thiago. And the they bought 2 players of very high quality Gaitan and Gameiro. Furthermore barca and real madrid had quite a poor start, and both have problems: ronaldo is getting old, messi is not happy and neymar has problems with the authorities. I think now they have to change simeone, otherwise its going really down, and atliti cannot establish itself on the top of Europe for the next decades, they might enter the VFC way…