Atlético continued their steady climb up the Primera División ladder on Sunday with an all-around dominant showing over freefalling visitors Real Sociedad.
The lively 3-0 victory was los Colchoneros’ second win in a row, and they now trail 5th place by a single point ahead of next weekend’s clash against Espanyol.
There’s no reason for the Atlético faithful to start dreaming of a Champions League berth just yet, that would be absolute madness!
Quique pleased with result, denies reports about his future
Manager Quique Sanchez Flores was pleased his men were able to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself this weekend following the dropped points by all of our major rivals for a Europa League berth.
“We expected a match day like this one, but it was essential for us to get the three points,” he told Atleti’s official site. “It has been very important for us to close in on points and to be within the group looking to land a European spot. We will try to finish as high as possible.”
Diego Costa’s stunning hat-trick against Osasuna last weekend earned the striker a second start on the trot for this encounter, but it came at the expense of Diego Forlán’s place in the fold. Perhaps it also came at the expense of Quique’s peace of mind.
“It’s difficult to leave Forlán on the bench,” the manager said. “We have a very good relationship and we know what he represents on the team. It was one of his teammates’ turn this time though.”
In spite of the rumours that surfaced this week suggesting the Rojiblanco boss has made up his mind and will not be coming back next year, a number of fans sang his name during the match yesterday. They did however, also sing the names of Atleti legends Luis Aragonés and Diego Simeone, who have both been mentioned in the press as possible replacements for Sanchez Flores.
“The players know me and they know I haven’t talked about my future on the [coaching] bench yet,” said Quique. “Neither the club nor I will talk about my stay with the team before the end of the season.”
Filipe opens up the scoring with his first goal at Atlético
Left-back Filipe Luís’ goal to break the 0-0 deadlock was his first with his new club, and it came after 29 official matches at Atleti. The last time he had scored was on 23 January 2010, for Deportivo, which happened to be the notorious goal against Athletic Bilbao that resulted in a broken right fibula after goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz landed on his leg awkwardly.
That injury kept him sidelined for four months, and the 25-year-old apparently doesn’t think he’s fully recovered from it yet.
“I’m very happy because I have scored and the team has won,” said the Brazilian. “It’s my first goal while wearing an Atleti shirt. I feel that little by little I am improving and I am getting into the squad’s dynamic.”
After smacking the ball home past Claudio Bravo, Filipe ran to the sideline and embraced centre-back Alvaro Dominguez, who was on the bench.
“I had to dedicate the goal to Dominguez because we talk a lot and we have suffered this season,” he said. “We’ve been criticised; I’ve played a lot of matches with him and I’ve enjoyed my time with him because he’s a great player and a great person. I felt like sharing that moment with him.”
Later in the evening, Filipe revealed via Twitter that Dominguez had predicted he would score. The oracle Alvaro should let us know when he will be getting his starting job back.
Diego Costa nabs a spectacular assist
The ‘Diego dilemma’ should continue for at least another week as Costa turned in a fine performance again. The Brazilian’s clearest chance ended up smashing the post after Bravo was forced to a save, and though he failed to score, he provided an assist with a beautiful back heel pass to Filipe.
The 22-year-old ran out of gas in the second half and was replaced by Forlan, who once again did not impress. It’s hard to imagine Quique relegating ‘La Rubia’ to the bench a third time in a row, but Costa has clearly outplayed his Uruguayan teammate lately and a start against Espanyol shouldn’t cause too much controversy.
Mario Suarez introduces his name to the score sheet
Filipe wasn’t the only one to finally introduce his name to an Atleti score sheet yesterday; midfielder Mario Suarez tallied his first official Rojiblanco goal when he put us up 2-0. It took the Atlético youth product 34 official games to find the back of the net.
After scoring, Suarez ran over to the sideline to hug trainer Esteban Arévalo, who has helped the 24-year-old deal with a pubis injury all season long.
“He’s with me almost more than my family and I wanted to dedicate the goal to him,” said Mario. “We’ve always said the team needed to be in a positive dynamic, and right now, we have a lot of confidence and we believe in our chances. We’re very happy and we have to remain on this course here on out.”
When asked about the chances of a Champions League berth, which, though a long ways away is still a mathematical possibility, Suarez responded: “The reality is that we are far off from Champions League, but we are Atlético Madrid and we can’t give up on anything. Seven games remain, that’s 21 points; we’re going to fight for all of them.”
Kun dazzles in his return from suspension
Sergio Aguero hadn’t played since our derby loss three weeks ago having missed the match against Osasuna through suspension, but the Argentine wonder didn’t miss a beat in his return.
Kun, who captained the squad, scored his 13th league goal and 20th overall of the season after bolting the length of the pitch in a one-man counter-strike. He’s now six goals shy of his career high of 26 in one season, which came in our 2007-08 campaign.
Amazed by the skill of our untouchable-so-back-the-****-off idol, Cesc Fàbregas tweeted shortly after our third goal: “Kun Aguero is so good. Anyone would want him on their team.” Fortunately, Arsène Wenger doesn’t have a Twitter account.
Reyes shames Real Sociedad defender
Jose Antonio Reyes referred to the moves he pulled to, quite frankly, own la Real defender Carlos Martínez just before dumping the ball off to Mario as “lovely”.
“I deked him about four or five times, but the important thing is that it resulted in a goal,” he said.
As one Atlético fan put it, imagine what MARCA’s cover would look like this morning had it been Ronaldo who had done what Reyes did.
De Gea makes four saves to lock down his 10th clean sheet
Our untouchable-so-back-the-****-off keeper David de Gea made four saves to secure his 10th league clean sheet of the season in what was his 50th Primera División match of his young career.
The Koke-Mario-Tiago-Reyes midfield features again
No complaints here.
Stat of the day
Atleti Central defender Luis Amaranto Perea is the longest active player (276 official games) in the Spanish first division who hasn’t ever scored a goal with his current club. After yesterday’s goals by Mario and Filipe, Perea became the only player on the present squad who hasn’t scored for los Colchoneros (via Mister Chip).