All right. So we’ll have to wait another week to break the 11-year hex against our eternal rivals Real Madrid.
Forlán’s early opening strike transported us into a seven minute dream state that allowed us to muse about finally ending the curse against los Merengues, but Sergio Ramos’ goal snapped us out of our short-lived trance.
From then on out it was a one-sided affair dominated by the home side.
Atleti frustratingly ceded chunks of space at a time to the likes of Di María, Özil and Ronaldo, allowing them to create chance-after-chance, but a sublime performance by David de Gea delayed the inevitable tie-breaker until the second half.
After Ronaldo scored to put his squad up 2-1, we held our own as we sought to take a one-goal margin into the Calderón next week. We had survived Real’s relentless assault and the awful refereeing by Mateu Lahoz for the remainder of the second half, up until the utterly crushing third goal that resulted from yet another defensive fiasco in a week that was riddled with them.
The third goal really complicates our chances of making it to the next phase of the Copa del Rey. But even though our prospects of qualifying to the semi-finals look grim, sometime mid-next week we will all convince ourselves that a comeback is possible.
De Gea sprains finger
Our young goalkeeper turned in another rock solid performance that was sadly ruined by injury and a painful late goal that left us with one foot out the door of the domestic cup tournament.
About the knock he sustained, De Gea told MARCA: “When Cristiano slid at me I hurt myself. I think it’s a sprained finger.”
The 20-year-old reportedly left the stadium with his left hand bandaged, and he will undergo testing on it in order to determine the severity of the sprain.
Our midfield was an expansive void
With Assuncao tracking back and guarding the back-line, Raul Garcia was left to command our attack all alone in the first half and he was completely irrelevant. In fact, the most exciting part of the second half was when when Raul was taken off, though his replacement, Mario Suarez, wasn’t much better.
If we are to stand a chance in the return leg next week, we better hope Tiago makes it back from his hamstring injury in time to send Garcia back to his rightful spot on the bench.
Juanfran makes a great first impression
Just over 24 hours after having been officially presented by Atlético, Juanfran was fantastic in his Rojiblanco debut. The former Osasuna man didn’t appear to be rattled in any way despite the fact that he was playing in a hostile environment against a very tough opponent.
The 26-year-old created two solid chances for Kun to score, but the Argentine virtuoso couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities.
Juanfran isn’t giving up hope for next week’s second leg match. “I’m convinced that with the support of our fans we will make a comeback,” he wrote via Twitter. “Once we score our first goal the stadium will be throbbing.”
Perea, a brick wall
Central defender Luis Amaranto Perea was back in the fold after he was a late scratch against Hércules this past Monday with a minor ankle injury sustained in pre-game warm-ups.
The Colombian, our most consistent full-back this season, played exceptionally well and showed no visible signs of pain to his ankle.
Diego Forlan makes solid return to starting XI
Diego Forlan returned to the starting line-up as captain, after Sergio Agüero had served as captain the last two matches. We were all excited when Forlan got his goal, but it’s hard not to dwell on the missed chance early in the second half when he hit the post. We would likely be singing a different tune right now if he would’ve capitalised there.
Nonetheless, it’s refreshing to see our lethal attack duo side-by-side once again.
Kun not a big factor last 2 games
Sergio Agüero left some of his stardust back at the Cornellá-El Prat. After a fascinating performance that helped us see off Espanyol in the Round of 16 last week, Kun hasn’t been much of a factor in our last two games.
A return home this upcoming Monday following three straight matches on the road will likely bring back the best out of our little wizard.
Filipe isn’t convincing anyone. Our big summer signing has been tossed around like a rag doll, and gets man-handled on every play. He often looks discomposed and out-of-sorts. He’s been pitiful the past couple of games and an ugly mistake at the end of the clash that led to the third goal may end up costing us dearly. If Perea would’ve attempted to clear away the ball the way Filipe did, we would’ve crucified him.
At this point, I’m not so sure the left-back is an upgrade over Antonio López.
Elias watched the game from the stands again
Brazilian signing Elias was perfectly eligible to play ahead of the derby. In fact, hours before kick off he sent a message via Twitter in which he expressed his excitement about the possibility of debuting in Spanish football. However, Quique did not include him as a substitute and the midfielder did not suit up. For the second time this week, Elias watched his team-mates lose from the stands.
Hopefully we’ll finally get a glimpse of him in action on Monday against Mallorca.
Stat of the day
We haven’t beaten Real Madrid in 19 straight matches (13 losses, 6 draws).
Leave us your thoughts and observations about the game in the comment section!