Last night we caught a glimpse at ‘what could’ve been’ with an uplifting victory over our once direct rivals Villarreal.
Perhaps the triumph was somewhat bittersweet as many fans will likely wonder where this sensational team has been hiding all season long.
From start to finish Atleti dominated the Yellow Submarine in arguably our best match of this disappointing campaign, a match that happened to include our goal of the season with Reyes’ early wonder blast.
“We’re very happy, pleased, and dedicate it to the supporters, who were spectacular from the opening minute just like in other matches that we didn’t win but in which we tried,” manager Quique Sanchez Flores told the club’s official site in the post-match conference.
“We got our fans excited, we’re going to give them a good weekend and hopefully we’re capable of giving them a great end to the season,” he said.
Though it’s too late to undo the damage caused by the team’s earlier inconsistencies, Atleti sit in a good position to fight for a Europa League spot.
With 38 points, Quique’s men find themselves in a three-way tie for sixth place with Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao before those two sides face off on Sunday.
‘La Rubia’ ends drought
Diego Forlan ended his eight-game scoring drought when he netted the final goal of the encounter, his 8th in the league this season. The striker, who was the centre of attention all week long following rumours of a locker room plot against him, was upbeat when speaking to the press after the match.
“I’ve been feeling much better in the last couple of games and luckily the goal arrived,” he said. “For a forward, scoring goals is always a good thing. I’m happy.”
When asked about the ‘La Rubia’ nickname his teammates had allegedly been using behind his back, Forlan said “now that it has come out in the press a couple of the guys say it in the locker room, but they had never called me that.
“I don’t have a problem with nicknames. They didn’t call me that before but now that it came out they take advantage of it and call me that all the time.”
La Rubia must be paranoid because why would anyone ever consider taking advantage of La Rubia and call La Rubia La Rubia all the time now?
Kun and Forlan score in same game for the first time since December
Coming into this bout it had been a while since our lethal attack duo had lived up to its billing. The pair hadn’t scored in the same game since Aris’ visit to the Calderón back on 1 December.
“We know that Diego and Kun are our leaders,” said defender Tomas Ujfalusi after the match. “They create many chances. They are our team’s biggest weapon and have had a very complete game.
Reyes on a goal scoring rampage
Though few will disagree with Ujfa’s claim that Kun and Forlan are the team’s biggest weapon, no Rojiblanco has been more dangerous in 2011 than Jose Antonio Reyes.
Ever since netting his first goal of the season in our catastrophic loss to Hércules in Alicante in January, winger Reyes has gone on to score four more times.
La Perla now has 5 goals this calendar year in the domestic campaign while Kun and Forlán have 2 in 2011 so far.
Elias starts, continues to adapt
Elias took the place of new fan favourite Koke on the left wing versus Villarreal after recording his first goal with Atleti against Getafe this past Wednesday.
Penciled in to man the left flank, the Brazilian employed his speed to freely roam the entire field making some crucial recoveries in the back while also providing support up top. He was solid throughout but was most helpful at fending off a potent Villarreal attack by playing an Assuncao-style dirty work role.
“I’m very happy for him,” said Quique after the game. “I’ve had several conversations with Elias and he acknowledges that Spanish football has a different rhythm than Brazilian football and he’s working on it. He’s in a type of football that is tough to adapt to and is making a big effort.”
Welcome to the 2010-11 season Filipe
After a series of false-starts throughout the season, Filipe Luis finally looked like the Depor version of himself that had us all stuck to our computer screens in the summer awaiting the confirmation of his signing.
Godín beats former club
Aside from receiving better compensation, Diego Godín claimed that he came to Atlético from Villarreal to have a better chance at winning titles and of competing in the elite European competitions.
Ironically, Godín’s old team is more likely to qualify for Champions League than us this year and after going back to the Madrigal earlier in the season only to be shut out 2-0, it’s nice that the defender got the last laugh with Saturday’s 3-1 drubbing.
Stat of the day
With his goal against Villarreal, his 84th in 224 official matches, Kun tied Fernando Torres in the Atlético goalscoring chart. It took ‘El Niño’ 244 official games to reach the same mark.