A week before the Europa League qualifier against Stromsgodset, Atleti played two short friendly games but failed to impress.
On Thursday night we lost both of our mini-matches against Granada and Besiktas by the same slim margin of 1-0. Gregorio Manzano again started with a 4-3-3 formation and switched to a 4-4-2 set up in the second half.
With seven days to go before our first official match of the season, the coach still has a lot to worry about.
Granada 1 – 0 Atlético
The main talking point after our half against Granada was the goalkeeping situation. Earlier in the evening, we announced the arrival of Thibaut Courtois, which put even more pressure on the shoulders of Joel.
The young ‘keeper started well when he lifted a wayward cross over the bar, but made a mistake which cost us the first match in this mini-tournament.
Jaime Moreno came inside from the right and struck a seemingly saveable shot towards goal. However, Joel was late to respond to the ball and didn’t get to the ground in time to prevent the strike from going in.
Atleti dominated the game against Granada and pressed far up the pitch, pushing the home side back towards their own goal. But while we saw some interesting combination play, we struggled to get a shot off, although there were chances early on for Salvio and Fran Mérida.
While individual performances certainly aren’t the most important things to look at during pre-season friendlies, some players were hugely disappointing. Diego Costa hardly did anything right and messed up a perfect 1-v-1 opportunity just before half time.
The penalty shoot-out after 45 minutes, which was used to prevent a tie at the end of the day, was won 3-2 by Granada.
Line-up: Joel; Sílvio, Miranda, Domínguez, Filipe; Gabi, Assunção, Fran Mérida (“30 Noguera); Salvio (“30 Juanfran), Diego Costa and Reyes.
Goals: 1-0 Jaime Moreno (“33)
Atlético 0 – 1 Besiktas
After a short break Atleti kicked off the second match of the night against Besiktas. Manzano switched to a 4-4-2 formation and introduced Adrián, who unfortunately saw little of the ball during his debut.
Canterano César Ortiz was the best Rojiblanco on display, which isn’t only a compliment to the versatile defender, but also a negative critique on his team-mates. Atleti failed to string two passes together and only went forward in the final minutes, when Antonio López was the first one to test the Turkish goalkeeper.
At that point Besiktas was already leading. Former Colchonero Simão had already delivered two dangerous corners, and the third time proved to be the charm. The winger swung in another set piece which was tapped in by Fabian Ernst, giving Besiktas the lead they deserved.
Just before full time, Juanfran managed to get a shot on goal but Atleti failed to score tonight in Los Cármenes.
The two matches during this triangular tournament were our final tests before we face Stromsgodset. We face the Norwegians on the 28th of July at the Vicente Calderón.
Line-up: Joel; Sílvio (“17 Valera), César Ortiz, Domínguez, López; Juanfran, Gabi, Mario Suárez, Noguera (“17 Raúl García); Diego Costa (“17 Pedro) and Adrián.
Goals: 0-1 Ernst (“27)