La Liga: Almeria 0 – 1 Atlético
A Miranda header the difference as Atleti take all 3 points
Atletico Madrid continued their unbeaten run in La Liga as they beat Andalucian side Almeria 1-0 away from home.
It certainly wasn’t an Atletico Madrid performance that fans would be used to seeing but it was enough in the end to see off a resilient Almeria.
The win also secured manager Diego Simeone’s 100th win in charge of Atletico Madrid despite not being on the touchline as the Argentine served his final league match ban. This feat means that Simeone has won 100 games at the helm of Atleti quicker than any of his predecessors, including Ricardo Zamora and Luis Aragones.
Atletico Madrid made 3 changes to the side that drew at home to Celta on the weekend with the captain Gabi starting on the bench. Almeria’s coach Francisco Rodrigues had said prior to the game that his team could not match Atleti physically or technically so he intended to beat them through intelligence.
His tactics seemingly worked in the first half which produced merely half chances for Atletico Madrid. Los Rojiblancos didn’t improve their situation by producing a weak display up front. Spectators were left baffled by the decision to have Griezmann playing the lone striker role while Raul Garcia was deployed out on the wing. The fact that neither Griezmann and Garcia made a pass to each other in the entirety of the first half highlighted that error.
An increasing occurrence so far this season has been Atleti’s reliance on goals from either crosses or set pieces. This game was no exception as Griezmann and Godin both had headers on target in the opening minutes.
Tiago attempted to buck this trend however with a powerful long range effort that forced goalkeeper Ruben into a diving save in the 29th minute. Raul Garcia followed suit ten minutes later by a firing a volley at Ruben who again made the save.
The lack of movement up front didn’t allow Turan and Koke to produce their usual defence splitting passes which was highlighted with Turan finishing off a silky run with a low cross in the 42nd minute which whistled in front of goal but no one could get on the receiving end.
The break ended a drab first 45 minutes which placed pressure on Atleti to come up with the goods that the many colchoneros watching on were expecting. Almeria sensing this, grew in confidence as the half time began to loom and created chances themselves.
Mario Suarez was replaced by Saul for the start of the second half and immediately made a difference in the centre of the pitch injecting enthusiasm into the Madrid side. His introduction saw Atleti launch more attacks through the middle and the youngster nearly had a shooting opportunity but was ruled offside in the 55th minute.
Griezmann nearly put the visitors ahead in the 51st minute as he latched onto a pass from Tiago who caught the Almeria defenders out by playing advantage which put Griezmann through on goal. The young Frenchman did well to steer the ball out of the reach of the goalkeeper but was too nonchalant and lost the ball through a mistimed pass to Koke.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 59th minute and Atletico Madrid’s top goalscorer of the campaign so far, Miranda, scored it. An inviting corner from Koke was too good to turn down as the Brasilian headed the ball into the back of the net from the near post. Yet another goal from a set piece but one that they would not turn down as goals were always going to be hard to come by in this game. The assist from Koke took him to 40 in his career, an outstanding achievement for the 22 year old.
Both centrebacks were on top form tonight both in a defending sense but also in attack. In the 41st minute Godin chased down a loose ball, turned his defender and put a ball into the box. Skills that we are more accustomed to seeing from Arda Turan not our number 2. Miranda also got in on the act as he skipped past 2 defenders before getting a shot off, albeit a tame one, at the keeper in the 71st minute.
Cerci was brought on to replace Griezmann, both players who are yet to meet expectation, in the 67th minute. Cerci exploited gaps in the Almeria defence but it was evident that he would be more useful playing a supporting role as opposed to being the main focal point of the attack.
Gabi replaced Arda Turan in the 84th minute which switched the emphasis of Atleti’s game into a more defensive one to see out the remaining minutes and hold on to all 3 points. An Almeria corner in the 85th was the last problem Atleti had to deal with as they saw out a 1 nil win away, moving them to within 1 point of Barcelona at the summit of La Liga.
Atletico amassed a total of 6 yellow cards in a game that was riddled by refereeing interference’s throughout. The three points will be welcomed especially as the same fixture last season was so disastrous for Simeone’s men.
Los Rojiblancos are back in action Saturday night as they face Sevilla at home.
|24 September 2014|
|Velez Jimenez (64')|
|Mario Suarez (45')|
|Arda Turan (84')|