I’ll be the first to admit that when rumours about Diego joining Atlético first surfaced during this past pre-season, I felt he would offer the club more risk than reward.
We were coming off a 2010/11 campaign somewhat marred by a personal conflict between a coach and a player, so my initial reaction, considering the Brazilian’s dust-up with his manager at Wolfsburg, was that it wouldn’t be wise to sign him.
Obviously, I’m an idiot…or, I hadn’t gone through the abundant video evidence available on the web documenting his enormous talent.
When I did, with a grain of salt mind you as a highlight reel on YouTube can even make Juan Valera look like a footballer, my reservations about Diego began to dissipate.
And then, on Saturday, in his debut against Valencia, Diego did this to my first impression of him.
As long as the former Juventus man keeps the peace with Gregorio Manzano and continues to develop chemistry with the rest of the squad, there’s real reason to believe that los Rojiblancos have finally found their conductor.
In his half hour on the pitch, the 26-year-old showcased a sample of his bag of tricks, participating in 28 plays and completing 28 passes, according to AS.
Perhaps his biggest mistake of the night was having dished out five of those passes to team-mate Juanfran who, to put it mildly, turned in an atrocious performance.
Atleti fans will surely be eager for Thursday’s Europa League group stage clash against Celtic to kick off, in which Diego, unless Manzano suddenly goes mad, should make his Vicente Calderón debut in the starting line-up.
Also set to appear in the fold against the Hoops is playmaker Arda Turan, who was also very impressive after replacing Adrián at the hour mark.
If we can’t do any damage against the Scottish side with Turan, Diego, Reyes and Falcao all featuring from the start of proceedings, I’m afraid we’ll be fresh out of excuses.
That is, unless Miranda plays in place of Luis Amaranto Perea again.
Los Colchoneros need to roll with the punches and keep working to put all their new pieces together.
Fortunately, our boys are keeping their heads up despite being blanked for the second consecutive time in the 1-0 loss to Valencia.
“We’ve had our chances and have been playing good,” Adrián told AS.
“Falcao did well but we will continue to work. The team is satisfied. We’re not worried because we’re doing things right and once we score the first one everything will be going up from there.”
Left-back Filipe Luis had some words of encouragement for supporters.
“There’s an environment of excitement in the dressing room,” he said.
“We have the feeling that we’re going to be up top. The goal will come.”
Following the defeat, defender Alvaro Dominguez, who served as captain in the encounter, wrote via his Twitter account:
“We’re sad about the loss…but the team has given their all! We have 3 very important home games! This team is going to have a great season.”
The next three matches at home (Celtic, Racing Santander, Sporting Gijón) can do wonders to help the team build up confidence going forward, starting with a trip to the Camp Nou to take on Barcelona on the 24th of September.