La Liga: Atlético 1 – 0 Real Betis

Gaitán strikes early on to give rojiblancos all three points in forgettable match

Gaitán's early goal didn't set the tone for the match

Gaitán's early goal didn't set the tone for the match

It wasn’t the most memorable of matches, but Atlético Madrid made it three wins from three in La Liga on Saturday night with a 1-0 win over Real Betis at the Vicente Calderón.

Nico Gaitán’s early goal separated the two teams on a frosty night in the Spanish capital, but it was a poor game with chances few and far between and actual football almost non-existent.

Having claimed an assist for Griezmann’s opener against Las Palmas in midweek, Gaitán earned a place in Simeone’s line-up and soon vindicated his manager’s choice with his 4th goal of the season.

Vrsaljko, preferred once more to Juanfran at right-back, was involved, his cross deflecting to Gaitán who reacted quickly to finish at the back post and give Atleti the lead on eight minutes.

The Argentine hasn’t accustomed to life in La Liga as well as many would’ve hoped, but was visibly boosted by the goal and was probably the red and whites’ best performer on the night.

Fernando Torres was also given a start despite Ángel Correa’s impressive showing in midweek, but he didn’t have his best of matches, albeit with service short in supply as both sides struggled to carve out any real openings.

Betis and namely top scorer Ruben Castro did have one or two half chances, but Miguel Ángel Moyá was alert throughout the match to deny him and his teammates in what was his 50th match for Atlético.

Little changed in the second half, although the introduction of Yannick Carrasco at least gave Cholo‘s men something of an outball on the left as they seemingly just looked to play out time.

The Belgian came the closest to finding a goal in the 82 minutes after Gaitán did find the net, but after taking Griezmann’s pass into his stride and cutting inside, shot straight at Antonio Adán.

As time went on, Atleti looked less and less willing to try and add to their lead, resorting to time-wasting and defensive tactics to ensure there would be no repeat of the two late goals conceded to Las Palmas on Tuesday night.

In a way, it was re-assuring to see the team show their defensive strengths and grind out the result, but after going ahead so early, the remainder of the match turned out to be a real anti-climax.

However, it’s another three points on the board and puts us to withing two points of Sevilla, who host Real Madrid tomorrow. It’s also another clean sheet, which will please Simeone.

In the midst of a busy run we can’t expect a high level of performance in every match, but hopefully we’ll see a better version of Atlético on Thursday when we host Eibar in a Copa del Rey quarter-final.

Player ratings: Moyá 7, Vrsaljko 7, Godín 6, Savic 6, Filipe 6, Gabi 7, Koke 6, Saúl 6, Gaitán 7 (MOTM), Griezmann 6, Torres 5. Subs: Carrasco 6, Gameiro 5, Giménez N/A.


  • iamfaried

    I must admit our midfielders found a hard time creating chances, but that was largely due to the overcrowded 5 defender formation. Also, Adan was very solid between the sticks. As he was last time around.

  • nandes

    Moyà has been good since Oblak’s injury, always felt like the criticism about him was exaggerated

    Torres and Griezmann probably had more touches inside our half than the opponent’s

  • Gol

    Atleti should’ve had 3 strikers upfront. 4-2-1-3

  • Kris

    Moya was ever criticized? He’s a solid 2nd choice for any team. His main weakness is his ball distribution though.

  • Karlp

    Simeone asked at presser if results are the only important thing for him. Waits a second “Do you really have any doubts about that?”

    Gotta respect the man. Although the fans have to suffer through every game.

  • Karlp

    Full reply was, “Results are the most important thing. If you doubt that, go look at who won the Ballon d’or”

    And still making a jab at blanket ronaldo. Love it.

  • KO CESARO

    i can’t stand saul this guy should be replaced immediately

  • Vagabond Messi

    He’s right about Ballon d’or though lol

  • Karlp

    Of course, as long as Messi is playing, no one can make a case against him.

  • Karlp

    I’m okay with focusing on result, but I would be more calm if Griezmann can assure us he won’t go due to this way of playing (which I always consider as the case of arda’s).

    I don’t think he is someone who would move because of money, but I seriously think he will move if he can score more goals somewhere else. At his current stage, I won’t trade him for anyone except for messi or bale.

  • KO CESARO

    savic : the guy is terrible it is what it is he passes to the opponents for god’s sake
    saul : one of the main reasons why atletico is going downhill this season every time he’s on the pitch it look like atleti is playing with 10 men he can’t create chances he can’t recover the balls and he is not a threat in opponent penalty area when we talk about defence the guy is garbage so why he’s still playing i really don’t understand this shit fucking Thomas Fernandez and Kranevitter are billion times better than him

  • Atlas

    Atlas

  • Atlas

    You have no clue. Saul is #1 . Scoring and defending a real home grown player

  • Gol

    This is the strongest starting XI I can think of.

    Carrasco-Griezmann-Correa
    Gaitan
    Koke-Gabi
    Filipe-Gimenez-Lucas-Vrsaljko
    Moya

  • Vagabond Messi

    Agree about Saul but Kranevitter has been absolute garbage with Sevilla.

  • Gol

    Godin in central midfield? He was a badass here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgy576xWRhU

  • Zinni DUDU

    He can not even play 3 meter passes… Than everybody wonders why we are not creating enough chances while we have only Griezmann and Koke to create chances while Saul plays balls into the feed of the oppsition

  • Zinni DUDU

    Man watch the fucking game against Real Madrid this season.
    Savic was Real Madrid man of the match.

    First Goal: Savic causes the free kick and deflects Penaldos fucking free kick in to the goal.

    Second Goal: Who should Wonder? Savic lets Penaldo run and tackles him like brainless dog and causes the penalty.

    Third Goal: Savic looses the header which creates the counter attack

    Than everybody is complaining about Torres should not start while Savic did nothing else than shit this season. I would even prefer my smurf friend Gameiro as a CB

  • KO CESARO

    savic is an error in the defence and saul is a fucking poison for the team

  • Vagabond Messi

    I already stated that Lucas and Gimenez should start over Savic.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Playing with Saul is playing with 10man , it’s funny how Griezmann has to drop deep to take ball even when we play with 4cms.

  • Usavicente Calderon

    This game could have been different. Atletico could have had 3 goals. We played a good game but the goals didn’t go in. Keep up the good work.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I watched Ossasuna vs Granada today and then Sevilla vs Real and I believe that we have no excuses in our set up against smaller opposition or lower placed teams.
    If we play poor say it. If we play well say it, I’m tired of excuses and theories about our choice of line ups, subs etc.

    Btw I didn’t get to see our games yesterday but I’m gathering from the comments and stuff being said that it wasn’t too good

  • AndersAT

    We did not play well. And I doubt anybody would say that we did (in here at least)

    But I am glad we won, that is a good sign at least, but I think we are all worried about the rest of the season. Playing like this we have no chance of progressing in UCL and beating Barca or Real to the cup, and staying in the top four could also be tough.

    I think we are all just wondering how we could improve.

    Btw I don’t like that we are not in the top three, but I DO like that Sevilla is mixing it up in la liga this season. It is good for the league I think.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Ofcourse it’s good for the league, we would’ve been near top if we didn’t play like cowards. Sevilla are looking good, they lack a defensive midfielder though, Kranevitter has been terrible for them.

  • KO CESARO

    guys last night i was in heaven watching sevilla owns real like atleti used to do fucking good times https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/039de0ae1e068f59bb5944acedc3a7ee281c81901a6e9a1f56cd0f94bdc849d7.jpg

  • Roberto

    Costa in, Torres to china…..I think we will win in Europe in 2018, but in EL not in CL 🙁

  • Vagabond Messi

    We should buy Nzonzi ,he’s perfect CM for posession football , he can defend aswell as he distributes ball very well, he’s just 28. But Simeone will look for a new striker and keep playing Saul in Midfield. When things don’t work , he’ll look for another striker.

  • Hannu

    He will make new contract with Sevilla and looks like Sevilla will beat us this season so why would he even come?

  • Hannu

    Torres will stay for new stadium so Gameiro to China..

  • Gol

    Yes, this is all Simeone’s fault. He puts Oliver Torres out on loan to Porto, and doesn’t sell Saul Niguez and Stefan Savic in this winter transfer window.

  • Hannu

    We have transfer ban and we should sell two our players? 😀 And yet Oliver is not Nzonzi..

  • Gol

    Why would players want to join this club when it sucks?

  • atleti10

    You are a very forgetful bunch on here…

    Savic is a good player without doubt. Saul is one of our own and still only a kid. He was good last season and will be a star for us.

    I like Oliver but hes not Iniesta (yet), people here seem to have them confused.

    Kranevitter has a lot of potential too, I’d like to have kept him around, but he’s not better than Gabi or Koke (yet).

    Smile, we’re back to winning ways. Even if it was a narrow 1-0.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Been trying to just ignore the negative comments about Saul and Savic.

    I think playing the players in their rightful positions would help them look better and not fall under criticism as much tho but I still love the club and I’m hoping we keep winning regardless

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Atleti have played 18 La Liga games this season,
    They failed to score in 6 games.
    And they scored only one goal in 5 games.
    4 of those 5 were at home, against newly promoted Alaves, the 10th on the table Las Palmas, the 14th Deportivo & the 15th Betis.

    11 of 18 games where we scored one goal or didn’t score. 61% of our games so far this season, a HORRIBLE and very scary statistic, even worse than last season that I repeated too many times, 20 of 38, 52%.
    Yet you don’t hear those smartass pundits talking about it, while we live in an era where there are many websites and social media accounts that are solely specialized in statistics, but not in really useful ones it seems.

    We have a MASSIVE attacking problem, not since this season, not since last season, but since the day Diego Costa left.
    The easy answer would be “but we reached UCL final and fought for La Liga until the penultimate week last season”, while the childish answer would be “if you want 7 or 8 goals every week go support Barca or Madrid”.

    But the sane, logic, fair, unbiased & reasonable answer -at least in my opinion- is:
    After 2014, we can’t pass UCL round of 16 without the LUCK of shootouts.
    We don’t want to score as much as Barca or Madrid, but it is not acceptable to score less than Sevilla and just two more than Real Sociedad.
    I don’t want to wait until the last minute to score the first goal against Gijon at the Calderon, or the last 8 minutes to score against Levante.
    I don’t want to win 1-0 at home against Rayo, who practically have no defense, who had a crazy coach last season who didn’t believe in defense ( I love him though), and who conceded 73 goals in La Liga last season.
    I don’t want to beat Espanyol 1-0 at home when they conceded even more goals than Rayo, 74, because if they improved just a tiny little bit then you will fail to score at all, which happened this season.
    63 goals in 38 games last season with a squad like ours was embarrassing.
    I do not 100+ goals per season like Madrid or Barca, I don’t even want 90+ or 80+, I want 76 goals per season, an average of 2 goals per game.

    When your team is able to score 2 or 3 goals in most of the games, if your players are well-trained on that and playing under a system that help them to do that, then when something go wrong in some games, they will only score 1 and still win, not draw 0-0 at home against Sevilla or Villarreal -despite controlling and dominating the whole game- and lose the title because if that.
    When you search for the second goal to secure your 1-0 lead you will avoid losing that lead against the likes if Deportivo, Gijon and already-relegated Levante, and lose the title because of that. You can afford some mistakes like the one of Gimenez against Lucas Perez at Riazor last season, no, scratch that, you will not commit such mistake in the first place.

    After 2014 two things happened :
    1- We lost Diego Costa, so the system that was built on him didn’t work anymore, especially after losing Arda and Raul Garcia as well.
    But Simeone didn’t sign Lukaku, Vitolo, Cazorla or Çalhanoğlu, and asked Correa, Vietto, Saul & Gameiro to play under the same system.

    2- We became Spain’s champions and Europe’s runners-up, and everyone started to look to us differently, many of them started to sit back and defend well against us, especially at the Calderon, so they canceled our system, and we discovered that’ we don’t know any other way, we have no idea what to do with the ball when the opponent decides to leave it to us.
    So, I don’t think Costa is the answer (since the rumors of bringing him back have started again), because with him you have to play on the counter, and not many teams will allow you to do that, or you have to give him a lot of service, like the one he is getting from Cesc, Hazard, Willian, Pedro, Moses, Marcos Alonso, Azpilicueta and even sometimes Kante & Matic, and also from Ramires, Oscar and Cuadrado in 2014/15.

    And since I’ve mentioned Chelsea, I don’t agree with the people who are suggesting that Atleti have the best squad in Europe after the big three, we do have a highly valuable squad, but I believe it was built wrong (but that’s still not an excuse to suffer at home against Betis, Las Palmas and co).
    We have an extreme and worrying lack of skills and creativity in the last third of the pitch, we have 6 CMs, and we have only 2 wingers, 3 of we counted Correa as one.
    And none of those 6 CMs is similar to Cesc or Matic or Ramires or Modric or Kroos, not even Koke, the one who is closest to them is the one who is playing the least (and playing the least under Simeone means playing almost never), Thomas.

    I still hate Costa, I never liked his behavior, and I didn’t like the way he left, and to me, he is a rat like Aguero and Arda, I still don’t want him back, but away for my grudges, I don’t think he is the answer.
    The answer is for Simeone to find a good system, or just find “a system”, because honestly, in many games it seems that we don’t have one.
    And if the man can not do that then the answer is a new manager. As soon as possible. If it’s up to me, I will do it this summer.

  • Vagabond Messi

    What a logic you come up with, you want Saul to be given unlimited chance because he’s a kid, no matter how sht he plays but want to see other kid (Oliver) to be like Iniesta at 21? Oh Man .

  • Vagabond Messi

    Oh yes, Man city ,Arsenal have better squad than us as you suggested before and EPL’s end to end football is very entertaning ,also don’t forget it’s also the best league in the world where ball is always in air. Wtf Aguero ,Silva or any of Man city or Arsenal attacker have ever done in cl knock out Round? But Koke ,Gabi ,Griezmann, Carrasco are just average even though they performed big in many big matches. I’m also not talking about our back 4 , that’s miles better than these two teams. Your Pellegerini’s Man city and players were struggling to take ball outside their own half and their players were looking pathetic against RM even RM were toothless. Stop buying the media hype mate , Paul Pogba doesn’t become top5 midfielder automatically if some club spends100m plus on him while someone like Gabi (2motm performance in ucl final) become average just because he plays for Atleti. Transfermarket overrate epl players , still our squad is of higher value than Man City,Arsenal and Chelsea. You take things too far sometimes.

  • Vagabond Messi

    For the same reason he will leave Sevilla for Juventus or any other team.

  • Ucce

    I have never ever seen Oliver put in an impressive performance, while it is undeniable that Saul has at least been good in some games.

  • AndersAT

    Agreed. Way to much criticism of Saul.

  • Hannu

    Absolutely. And by the way Oliver had some chances last season but didnt managed to use them and he was given number 10.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I wish he was given number 57 but wasn’t out of the game’s list for 8 or 9 consecutive weeks since January!!
    Oliver was given a chance for half a season and was played out of position, Saul was given a chance for two and a half seasons.

    And I would appreciate it if people stopped talking about giving him the number 10 shirt (I think it was you Kris who started that), it really means nothing, the number was available after Arda has left and the kid asked for it, and probably nobody else did.
    I don’t think Simeone -or any other coach- decides what number should every player wear, and I don’t think he can deny any of them any number if he felt he is not good enough for it, do you?!

    Last season, the most significant shirt’s number at Atleti, 8, was given to a kid who had just arrived from Argentina, Kranevitter, and Simeone didn’t have any intention to give him any real chance that season.
    Giving Oliver the number 10 really doesn’t mean anything in my opinion, I have been meaning to say that for a long time.

  • Hannu

    Yeah that may be right as Kranevitter didnt really have any chance! And you are right about Oliver being out of game list but as Ucce said when he played he didnt really impressed, ofcourse out of position but do we have position for him with Simeone? He is talented and I quess everybody would want him so shine at Atleti but I dont think it will happen with Simeone and as long as Simeone is here its kind of useless to think that what if Oliver would be here when its quite clear that he has no place in Simeones team.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    He didn’t impress, but I don’t think he disappointed either, he did get some chances, but I believe he deserved more, but I agree and I have said it before that he has no place in Simeone’s plans.

    I said several times that if Simeone is planning to leave this summer or the next one then he doesn’t get to sell Oliver, the board should not allow him to do that, or at least sell him but with a buyback option, because any coach who will replace him would love to have a player like Oliver.

  • Hannu

    Absolutely and they should not have allowed to sell Borja either but hope they dont make same mistake with Oliver.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Apart from some nice golas , Saul barely hard a good game as CB. Oliver was thrown out of many matches after he gave a masterclass performance gainst Eibar after coming in second half, this shows Simeone never trusted him, and Man ,Oliver played at wings , not at Centre. Play him at centre, if he flops, fine sell him to some posession oriented team. To me Saul is not a CM, he has no quality of a CM.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Kranevietter has been garbage with sevilla , he has no future at top club, he is liability as CDM at Sevilla, leaking goals and not shielding defense. Why don’t you see Sevilla play? He’s their only weakest link (CDM), otherwise they will be a monster team.

  • Vagabond Messi

    So you want critics to shut up or Saul to step up his performance?

  • AndersAT

    I would like him to improve.

    People can write what they want I am not trying to impose my opinion on anyone. I just think this amount of criticism is unfair, that is just my opinion.

    Do you want people that don’t criticise Saul to shut up?

  • Ucce

    Oliver doesn’t bring the ball forward. What he does is receive the ball and then pass it sideways or backwards, creating nothing. He has never impressed me and I don’t think he can become a top player, not at Atletico nor anywhere else. And it’s not like he plays tiki taka and would fit in at Barca either. This is my view of him right now. I could be wrong. We will see what the future holds for him.

    Saul is an allround player with good technical ability who scores important goals. He has played as a defensive midfielder and centre back, so he ought have some defensive capability, but a more defensive midfielder is needed beside him. I see a lot more potential in Saul. I think we conceded goals playing 4-3-3 with Saul against smaller teams which resulted in draws, didn’t we? I wouldn’t necessarily blame Saul altogether, because Atletico should be good enough to dominate a smaller team at home and keep a clean sheet, without having to resort to playing defensively with 4 CMs.

    And if the defensive is not perfect with 4-3-3 and Saul playing, against smaller teams of course, the score should still be a 4-2 win, not a 1-1 draw. Against Barca and Real, 4-4-2 with a defensive focus is more rational, even though I still want us to be more offensive against them than we usually have been in the past.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Stop beating around the bush , Tell me if Saul has any attributes of a CM? He’s been playing for almost 2 season yet he looks very poor as CM , sorry playing as CB or as striker don’t cut it or automatically land you a permanent place as CM. And since you’re such a big fan of performance based selection, we’re asking for Saul to be benched for another player, Saul has been complete sht as CM, he’s not even a CM , let’s not delude ourself. Simeone has to play 4 Cm to get hold of midfield and defense because Saul must play and he’s good for nothing as CM. As far as Oliver is concerned , i guess you ignore importance of position for a player or are willfully dishonest , Saul played on wing , that position needs pace more than skill , how many matches did he play as CM and flopped? He changed game against Eibar in second half and then he didn’t play for months, i don’t see this as performance based selection. Yes , you won’t blame Saul because you’ve rose tinted glasses on .433 with 2 CM (Koke and Saul ) didn’t work because Saul is not a CM period, it prompted Simeone to bring back Gabi and play 442. Koke can’t do everything on his own , he needs a good cb besides him .

  • Vagabond Messi

    No , but i also don’t want them to call critics of saul ungrateful bunch and trying to shut down any criticism of him. Freedom of speech works both ways , they can say whatever they wany but they also gotta listen to unpopular opinions aswell. Are we good?

  • KO CESARO

    i said it before and i say it again saul is trash people it is what it is you people need to separate your personal feeling for the guy from the fucking performance on the field the guy can’t do shit this is fucking fact and if some of you think that he is handsome or whatever that is your personel problems don’t mix it with normal stuff in the interests of the team

  • Hannu

    I have watched some games of Sevilla but Kranevitter has been on the bench.

  • Vagabond Messi

    He was getting regular start untill he lost trust of Sampaoli, now Iborra plays at his place. Kranevietter is not CDM, he shy away from tackles, doesn’t shield defense and he had hands in all of Madrid’s 3 goals in CDR’s second leg. Kranevitter is a lost cause , ask Sevilla fans how disappointed they’re with him.

  • Kris

    Lmao

  • Vagabond Messi

    Gotta love him and Dudu though lol.

  • Gol

    Problem solved. 😉

    Carrasco-Gameiro-Gaitan
    Koke-Griezmann-Gabi
    Filipe-Godin-Gimenez-Vrsaljko
    Moya

  • Koke

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfqG861iCGc

    Check out this highlights video of half a season of Oliver at Porto this year, do you think that footage of Saul could ever produce such highlights? Obviously youtube videos never tell the whole story but the fact is that if you put Oli in a team that WANTS to keep the ball and wants to play attacking football, a role for him will open up and he will be very very useful. Trust me, Barcelona (both the club and its fans) have been watching the kid for a while now with great interest. I only wish for him to get more physically strong and develop a tougher more badass personality, but in terms of skill he is very very good.

    Yes, Oliver didn’t produce as much when he was still with us, but I don’t think it was entirely his fault. Like others are saying, 1) He rarely played, 2) When he did, he was out of position and therefore redundant, and 3) A lot of times his teammates were disappointing, making him look bad. I can’t count the number of times he would play a brilliant through ball only for the attacker to miss the target, thus he wouldn’t get any assist.

    As for the Saul debate, I’m not anti-Saul either. But I think it’s high time that he locks down one specific position and it definitely should not be AM or even CM. Moreover, I do think he should be played not based on trust but on merit, meaning that right now he should be riding the bench. He isn’t the most breathtakingly talented wonderkid you’ll ever see but he doesn’t lack talent either and the thing that is really special about him is his balls and maturity. He also seems to have the ‘luck’ factor that players like Sergio Ramos and Raul Garcia have that causes them to create goals and assists out of absolutely fucking nothing when the team needs it the most.

    It’s my dream to see Saul developed into a more dynamic Busquets, but he really has to play DM a lot and also has to get better at defending. However, neither thing will happen while Simeone is here since he doesn’t seem to want less than 2 defensive players in the midfield at all times, usually not including Saul.

    Lastly, in the games back earlier in the season when he actually played Saul and Koke alone together in the midfield, they actually performed really well. Ironically now with Gabi, Tiago, even freaking Gimenez and Juanfran also being added to the midfield, we seem to be conceding more goals and chances than ever.

  • Koke

    I would say we have an extremely talented squad. With our front 3, I don’t think either Griezmann or Carrasco could be replaced by any players in the world that are better than them. (Only players I can think of are at Neymar/Bale/Aguero level, and we wouldn’t be able to sign any of them). For CF, however, we really needed a Lukaku/Icardi/Belotti type, and I’m still hoping we get one eventually, but even so there’s no excuse not to be scoring with very talented strikers like Gameiro. The back 5 is still the best in the world imo when they are at their best, so the only question mark is the midfield. At their best, Koke and Gabi/Saul/Tiago are all class, all I could ask for is a world class CAM. In short, only CAM and ST are the positions that we could really do any better in, realistically. And even so, the players we have right now should be just fine (Gameiro, Torres, Correa, Thomas, Gaitan, Oliver).

    I too agree that Simeone is the issue, because what’s more likely when an entire team is doing poorly – every single player lost form at the same time, or the coach needs to do a better job at morale and tactics? We don’t need to score 7 goals every match, but we just can’t look so unlikely to score every single game.

    I have a hard time believing that Ben Yedder and Vietto > Gameiro, Vitolo > Carrasco, Vazquez > Koke, and Nasri > Griezmann, and yet Sevilla are much better at attacking than we are right now. Even when they sometimes have 5 defenders and 2 defensive midfielders on the pitch. It’s all about tactics and intentions

  • KO CESARO

    i am an atletico hardcore fan but come on man sevilla is is way better than us they play with guts and intensity actually they are very similar to atleti 2013-2014:
    -badass coach
    -relentless good players
    -no such things like saul or savic who can cost you every thing

  • Vagabond Messi

    Problem is Oliver was never deployed to play posession based play, he was induced to keep same system alive by filling in Arda’s boots , and that was a kiss of death to a CM, not even Young Xavi would florish if he’s asked to play on wing.

  • Gol

    If Saul played like this every game this season Atleti would either be 1st or 2nd in La Liga right now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJonF6WmKtE

  • atleti10

    How did you take that from what I said? It’s simple, it’s not Sauls fault, it’s the system. Much better players have been made to look average under this set up.

    If Oliver stayed and Saul went out on loan you’d be condemning Oli and calling for Sauls return.

    Oliver has been average in a shit league this year. A league where Jackson Martinez scored for fun. When has Oliver ever impressed for us? He’s the kind of player you can make a nice youtube highlight reel of but if you watch a full 90 mins you can see he’s not at Sauls level yet.

    Which makes me wonder if you guys actually watch matches or if you’re basing your player analysis on football manager 2014 and YouTube clips…

  • thericeking

    wuite average tbh. he can make good passes but where is the end product (i know its a video of passes). none of the plays looked like easy scoring opportunities and some of the passes he could have made to create those opportunities, he didnt take.

  • AndersAT

    http://www.marca.com/en/football/spanish-football/2017/01/17/587e2ff746163fe00c8b4601.html

    If this is true (and it usually is), it will be very interesting to see the match against Eibar.

  • Ucce

    Wow, he changed a game against Eibar? What a world class player. Oliver hasn’t impressed me in Porto either. Or is he always played out of position there too? Saul was one of the decisive players in games against Bayern and Barcelona. If people don’t want Saul, then that’s fine. I don’t care about Saul, but asking for Oliver instead of Saul is laughable. This is the unfair criticism that my response was about.

    It was you who brought up the CM position. Saul could be a winger, an AM, or a DM. He doesn’t have to be played as a CM, if it doesn’t work. In the last game, he was a winger. If people still find him too bad, then he can be shipped away alongside the useless Oliver, and an actual replacement could be brought in. But yes, I still think Saul is a better CM than Oliver, even if this is a bad position for Saul while being Oliver’s natural position. With Saul it seems like he could be a decent box-to-box CM, judging by goalscoring capability as well as possible but debatable defensive capability. In Oliver, I see nothing.

    I don’t want 4-3-3 with 2 CMs. 4-3-3 should be played with 3 CMs, including Gabi, not 2 CMs in Koke and Saul. I don’t think Simeone would use 4 CMs to accomodate a useless player.

  • Ucce

    Maybe, but it’s not going to happen. Saul, if played at CM, is a Frank Lampard type of player, not a playmaker like Modric. Koke would be the Atletico equivalent to Modric. If Saul was like Bale/Ronaldo on the wing though, or Griezmann was like Messi, then I think we would be 1st or 2nd.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Yes, it’s system fault that keeps playing a player as CM in any formation when it’s clear that he has no attribute of a CM. We can’t play 443 with Saul .take your fangirl approach somewhere else and tell me what exactly is Saul’s attribute as a CM? Man can’t pass , can’t tick the ball around , don’t have vision , is not defensively good. Okay Oliver was benched after few chances, can we fking drop Saul for being sht for months? What else he does apart from scoring some goals once ina while? All he does is take space of a CM and we have to field another CM because your hero can’t defend or create anything but he must play . Is it a coincidence that Simeone started fielding 4CMs only when Saul came into picture?yes, System is a problem and Saul is a part of it. Let’s drop him since we both agree about performance based selection. As far as Oliver is concerned , he has better attributes as CM, he got limited chabces and that too on wing, put Xavi on wing and he’ll struggle. He has been average in sht league? Porto fans are happy to have him.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Saul scores ones in a while i never denied that, Saul played almost 2 season regular first team football and yet he doesn’t have a performance where he dominated midfield even against Eibar, that alone should ring bell. Good luck if you want to play 443 with 3 Gabi,Koke,Saul, we saw how it went. You don’t play fking 443 with noone who boss the posession and pull the string, even Kroos need Modric to do that, and we have saul who could barely pass 5m .Let’s not bash our own kid, bench him and let someone else get the chance.

  • Vagabond Messi

    CM doesn’t need to have end product , maestro like Xavi, iniesta barely scores or assist. Lol at end product.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    That’s the line up I want to see the most tho

  • Koke

    Yes, I can’t help but look at them and see a version of ourselves from a couple years ago. Back when our mentality was of a hungry underdog and not a complacent underachiever. It’s very very similar, and I will not be surprised at all to see Sevilla win the UCL or La Liga. I’ve been saying it since the season started. You all can laugh right now, but everyone was laughing about the idea of Atleti winning in 13/14 and look at what happened.

    I would absolutely love to see Sampaoli coach us someday soon. The man is the right kind of crazy and strikes me as a more attack-oriented Simeone.

  • Ucce

    I don’t want to play 4-3-3 like that, since I don’t think Saul is the most natural CM. I think 4-4-2 is the most sensible formation, with two out of Saul/Carrasco/Gaitan/Correa on the wings and Gabi and Koke as CMs. 4-2-3-1 could be interesting too against bad teams, with Saul as an AM, on the wing, or on the bench.

  • Kris

    On the bench is the perfect position for players who don’t perform, not just Saul.

  • Kris

    Now, you are asking for too much. If the system that Simeone was playing was working at the time, why should he tweak it to just accommodate to one player’s needs? Wouldn’t it be easier for the player to adapt to the team than the team to adapt to that one particular player?

  • Kris

    This guy’s a troll. How the fuck are you going to compare Saul to one of the best, in not the best central midfielder in the world?

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    About your point number 3 about Oliver, at some point last season I actually started to count his “missed assists”, the ones he gave our strikers on a silver platter but they missed them -including Grizi-, I put them in some of my comments and they were 6 or 7 assists that really should have been added to his name (all were open-play assists, unlike Koke’s for example) and things would have been very different.

    But when journalists and fans only look at the number of assists, the coach SHOULD NOT, Simeone should have judged him by his all over performance, he should have given him credit for those “missed assists”, he should have given him credit for his great 30 minutes against Eibar, the one where Torres scored his 100th goal, people need to watch those 30 minutes again and how he totally changed the game, but what happened is that after that game he started to get less minutes, not more.

    There was one away game last season -I forgot against who- when Simeone took 20 players with him instead of 18, but yet Oliver wasn’t one of them, with no injury and no suspension, so Simeone didn’t really give him a chance or respect, he treated him like shit, in the pre-season against Melbourne Victory when Tiago was injured in the first half and substituted, Simeone gave the captain armband to Lucas while Oliver was on the pitch, he had more seniority than Lucas and it was a fucking friendly, the kid saw Saul, his classmate -if we can use that term- wearing that armband in an official game, against Rayo in the cup, but he doesn’t get it in a friendly and when almost all the players on the pitch are Atleti B players.

    No people, Oliver wasn’t given a fair chance from Simeone and wasn’t treated respectfully.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I watched Sevilla-Madrid with my brother and I said to him: “I don’t think Sevilla players are thinking about CL spots, I think they are thinking about the title, I can see it in their eyes”

  • Koke

    “He can make good passes but where is the end product.”

    Isn’t “good passes” exactly what our team needs right now? When we can’t make 5 passes in a row, when we can’t hold onto the ball in the final third, when we are criticizing Saul for not being able to pass the way a CM should? We just need midfielders to be able to hold and move the ball, since we have great defenders and great attackers but nobody between them that can transition the ball. Then, the attackers are all isolated and all the talent in the world for Gameiro and Griezmann isn’t enough to make them chances.

    Besides, Oliver does make some good chances. Having played so little minutes last season, he did manage to rack up a few assists and created a lot of clear cut chances. It’s not even really his job either. Carrasco, Gameiro, and Griezmann are all skillful enough to fashion their own chances when they get the ball in dangerous areas. It’s just that nobody’s really able to give them the ball where they need it. Oliver can provide that.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    We don’t have the best back 5 in the world, we have the best 8.
    Gimenez -our 3rd choice CB right now- is a world-class and many European giants are after him. Lucas was a beast against what many people call “the big three”, Madrid (at Copa del Rey 2014/15), Barca & Bayern. Vrsaljko is a great player, not because of his performance against some average teams with Atleti, but I have watched him with Sassuolo & Croatia, a very solid RB.

    But I wasn’t talking about that, I was only talking about our attacking side.
    Of course we have talent and creativity, but I wasn’t just talking about quality, I was talking more about quantity, that’s why I mentioned all those Chelsea players.
    While when we play with Gabi-Koke/Gaitan-Carrasco/Grizi-Gameiro, we have no other creative and skillful player on the bench except Correa.
    Saul can be skillful and creative sometimes, but in some other times he can be a very ordinary player. Thomas can be a great attacking and creative option someday, but he is not there yet, because he doesn’t play. Tiago can do that role, I will never forget his game at the bridge, but he is too old now and getting a lot of injuries.

    Now let me use another example, Man City, and again, I’m only talking about the attacking side:
    For Griezmann they have Aguero, who actually has scored more league goals than him in the last two seasons and this one so far, 26, 24 & 11 for Kun and 22, 22 & 7 for Grizi.
    For Carrasco they have De Bruyne, and for Gaitan they have Sterling.
    But then they have Silva, Navas, Sane, Nolito, and 2 CMs with attacking abilities, Toure and Gündogan, the latter has been scoring more goals and is more creative than Saul, while the first has been scoring much more goals than Koke, in 2013/14 he scored 20 league goals, Koke never scored more than 5 in one season, and his open-play assists aren’t really that much.

    6 defensive or not offensive enough CMs and only 2 wingers and zero CAM is insane.
    And above that, when we lose Filipe, we have no other LB who can offer attacking options like him, Lucas is a CB and Vrsaljko is right-footed.
    This squad was built wrong, and I’ve addressed that before the season started, and as I said few days ago, it’s also a small squad, without Cerci and Moreira we have 21 first team players.
    It should have been 23 players, and we all know who should those two extra players have been, we already had them, Oliver and Borja.
    23 players for a team that’s fighting on 3 fronts every season aren’t that much for most of the managers, but obviously not Simeone.

    However, over-all, I do think we have a better team than Man City (their defense and GKs are SHIT) and I believe we have more depth than Barca, but with this group of midfielders and with only Torres and Gameiro as our number nine, I believe we will keep struggling to score goals.

  • Kris

    I stopped arguing for Oliver for one reason and one reason only. It’s that Simeone isn’t going to change his style of play just so Oliver can play. Do you think Oliver playing, but with extreme defensive duties as a wide midfielder is honestly going to change anything? I don’t and Simeone didn’t think so either. Do you think he’s going to replace Gabi or Koke as CM? I don’t and Simeone didn’t think so either. I don’t think Simeone is going to play anything other than a variation of a 4-4-2 with Atletico, and there literally is no room for Oliver to play in that formation to the best of his abilities while also playing for the best of the team’s abilities. Some things you can argue against with Simeone like not playing Gaitan and Carrasco for literally the same positions as the fucking CMs he chooses to play. The CMs which are actually hurting the team as the team continues to leak goals even when they play and they offer jack shit in attack. But Oliver’s case is different. I think Cholo is trying to do what is best for the team without hurting the team and Oliver, and I am sure that going to Porto instead of a team like Villarreal was also Oliver’s choice as he loved his first spell there. Oliver’s case is sad to think about but I believe in this situation Simeone is just doing what’s best for the kid and the team, and one more thing he can do that’ll be best for both parties is to not sell Oliver. Simeone will be gone, but after he leaves we’ll need players like Oliver to make us a better team throughout the pitch.

  • Vagabond Messi

    He doesn’t need to replace Gabi or Koke as CM, he needs to play with these two as 3rd CM, you’re right about him not fitting on wing or wide position , but we tried 433 and a player like Oliver is born to play 433. 433 system do need a player that can pull the strings and move the ball around. He doesb’t fit in to 422 though , i agree.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Didn’t Simeone try 433?why are you confusing with 433 with 422? How does playing Oliver as CM is adjusting system for him? Never saw any successful 433 system with three defensive midfielder. if anything 433 needs a CM like Oliver, no need to adjust system or anything for him. I agree he’s defensively weak to play double Pivot. Moreover , do you’ve like for like Arda replacement for 442? Our right wing has become toothless ever since Arda left, reason being we kept playing CM on right wide but 442 do need it’s wingers to connect to strikers or Griezmann will have to drop deep to take ball from midfield.

  • Kris

    4-3-3 with a shape of 4-4-2. It’s never gonna work with Simeone because he insists on defense first. Plus he tried for like 2 or 3 games and he pussied out. He’s not gonna play anything other than a variation of 4-4-2 because it’s what has worked best for him and he believes it’s going to continue to work. Maybe when he leaves Atletico, he might experiment with other formations but I don’t see him ditching 4-4-2 any time soon.

    You’re right. His optimal 4-4-2 requires players like Arda who can hold the ball as well as dribble past players. Just look at the plays we used to do on the fucking edge of the pitch and 2 yards away from the pitch markings or sometimes even on the lines. Those things were incredible to see with Filipe, Koke, Juanfran, Arda combining. We see very little of those types of plays these days. I can’t tell you who can replace Arda on the right, as with the transfer ban I will not even speculate, but we do have Gaitan who’s capable of dribbling in tight situations and combining with other players. We saw some of it against Betis, but Filipe was garbage that game so we couldn’t see how great of a combination they can form on that left side. The great thing about this specific 4-4-2 is that the wide midfielders aren’t orthodox wingers, so they are able to move from wing to wing to combine with whoever’s available. With Carrasco’s pace and his willingness to always help in defense, I see no reason as to why not take the gamble with Carrasco and Gaitan on either ends on paper, and they are free to roam from side to side whenever the ball is available to play.

  • Hannu

    Exactly to the point.

  • Gol

    Saul is obviously trying his hardest he can to try to be like Modric. Look at this. http://www.goal.com/en/news/722/la-liga/2016/11/15/29549922/bale-ronaldo-modric-is-real-madrids-best-player-saul

  • Karlp
  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Notice I’ve stayed quiet about all of this. Last season I was complaining while it was happening and I refuse to buy into the notion that Oliver isn’t a good fit for Simeone, the guy has done everything asked of him in his few minutes given. At first they said he wasn’t strong or he didn’t fight hard enough and he built muscle and worked hard even picking up yellows in the process, he even said he would stay and fight for his place and still didn’t get the chance or respect to.

    This kid is talented and the fact we didn’t change our system when they bought Jackson ( the guy he assisted so much in his season before) is the main reason we weren’t scoring goals. What’s so wrong with seeing that the system is the issue? We have talented players but they’re no longer playing to their strengths and that’s the issue, Simeone used to utilize each players strengths and that’s how we won the title but I no longer see that

  • Vagabond Messi

    I never heard of a system that doesn’t need a CM that dominates midfield and tickle the play, such CM general fit the bill no matter if you play 442 or 443. May be Simeone don’t want our system to hold ball , and want all CMs to be more of a destroyer than i understand that system.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Nice ?!! .. I think “interesting” is the word you are looking for, but there is nothing nice about having 160M in debt that Carlos Slim injected into the new stadium which could force us to sell several key players or lose all the club’s shares to Slim.

    Nothing in that article is new to me, however. I’ve been reading all that information over the last two or three years in Spanish newspapers, not just sports one, but even more in El Pais & El Mundo.

    I posted a long comment here in the article about the new stadium few months ago, but in short, I want to say two things:

    1- I really don’t like those “smoke signals” guys, I feel that they don’t care if they hurt the club as long as they hurt Gil & Cerezo, those two are sons of bitches, but I would work with the devil to serve and protect my club. But this group is always against Gil & Cerezo either they are right or wrong.

    2- I am not worried, Gil & Cerezo are criminals -literally, both received suspended jail sentences- but they are not idiots, our financial situation is bad, but not that bad, not to be forced to sell Grizi, Koke & Saul.
    We can pay those 160M by selling only Grizi -who could leave anyway- for his full clause, 100M, and pay the other 60M from our budget, we have been wasting that much money for the last two summers on players we don’t use.
    And if we really can’t pay, I don’t think Jianlin will let Slim takeover, he is not idiot either, I think he will pay the debt from his own money after buying the rest of the shares from Gil & Cerezo. And while some people don’t like that scenario, I really don’t hate it. I prefer Jianlin over Slim.

  • thericeking

    i thought he played well when he was given his few chances and should have got more.. i just think he gets too much credit around here. you know, the grass is always greener, spilt milk style credit. even oliver, even iniesta in his prime would barely help us when we have a team that fundamentally cannot attack.. it is by luck that we manage to get the ball in the goal, if you try something 20 times a game then once you will get through. but you watch us and we cant get the ball through the middle and when we cross it, its shit. i have no solutions, only problems to offer 🙂

  • Vagabond Messi

    We don’t own 100 percent of Groezmann, 30 percent of his sale will go to La Real. If Jialin buys then he’ll make sure we’re a top Dog financially.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Are you sure ?! .. I know Moncao will get 25% if we sold Carrasco, but I don’t remember such thing about Griezmann, do you have a source?!

    You won’t be concerned about finance with Jianlin, but would you have any other concern if he took over, or would you be totally fine with it, I’ve read the opinions of many other people about this issue, I would love to know yours?!

  • Vagabond Messi

    Yes, i’m sure and we paid 30million for his 70 percent, if we Sell Griezmann for anything less than 120m then it’ll be a failure in my eyes. He’s far bigger player than Pogba ever was at Juventus. We neither own 100 percent of Saul or Koke. We sold 40 percent of Saul and Koke for peanuts to some third party(5-7m) when they were young. Our board is a big mess. And why on earth they took loan from Slim’s company?Couldn’t these rats take loan from other banks that would’ve given atleast few years time to repay it? I smell nasty things Ahmad, i fear worst if Slime becomes owner, he’ll suck out our club dry more than Lim did.

  • starvs

    And we hardly even play our most creative player (Gaitan)!!! It is ridiculous really.

  • Karlp

    just being sarcastic on that “nice” actually

  • Karlp

    also can’t remember that 30% on Griezmann, but I remember the percentage on YFC, Koke, Saul, Oliver. I do hope you were wrong on that one

  • Vagabond Messi

    I also hope i’m wrong on that one, but i remember reading it at the time Griezmann was bought. I’m trying to search old sources, not finding any now.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I’ve been reading about this subject for years, and there were many articles in the English version of El Pais, and this group was even against the original plan, which was:
    Building two 36-floors skyscrapers at the site of the Calderon, which would have covered all the expenses of the new stadium.
    In fact, if I remember correctly, I think “Smoke Signals” had a hand in the court decision which decide that the maximum number of floors allowed in the Calderon land is only four.

  • Karlp

    Wow from skyscraper to regular building, that’s bad. Seems like they’re truly against our board.