Copa del Rey: Rayo 1 – 1 Atlético

Saúl grabs an important away goal in Copa del Rey first leg stalemate

Kranevitter solid on his Atleti debut

Kranevitter solid on his Atleti debut

Atlético Madrid have work to do if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, after coming from behind to draw 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano on Thursday night.

Nacho Martínez opened the scoring for the hosts before half-time, before substitute Saúl hit the equaliser midway through the second half following good work from Luciano Vietto and Matías Kranevitter.

Kranevitter was making his debut for the red and whites, as Simeone opted to throw him and fellow new boy Augusto Fernández straight into a line-up that featured ten changes from the team that beat Levante at the weekend.

However, his rotations didn’t quite have the desired effect, particularly during the first half as Atleti failed to create anything of note.

Fernando Torres again looked isolated up front on his own, and the hosts went ahead deservedly on 35 minutes via a spectacular goal from left-back Nacho.

After pouncing onto a misplaced pass in midfield from man of the moment Thomas Partey, the Rayo man let fly from outside the box and beat Miguel Ángel Moyà with a superbly struck left-footed drive.

The away side’s only real openings came towards the end of the half, first when Juan Carlos had to be alert to deny Carrasco from close range, and then as Giménez headed just wide moments later.

Diego Llorente came within inches of sending Paco Jémez’s side into the break two up, but headed straight at Moyà from a corner. Either side of him and the net would have bulged.

Things didn’t improve after the interval, and as has been the case in many games this season, the turning point came as Cholo shuffled the pack and introduced a couple of substitutes.

Óliver Torres – quiet again in a wide role, and debutant Augusto made way for Saúl Ñíguez and Luciano Vietto, and it was the combination of those two that resulted in the equalising goal.

The impressive Kranevitter found his compatriot Vietto out wide with a cross-field ball, and he skipped inside his marker before cleverly cutting the ball back for Saúl to finish calmly.

It was a delightfully well worked goal, but in truth, the only real moment of quality that Atleti produced throughout the 90 minutes.

Still, if it wasn’t for a couple of vital interventions from goalkeeper Juan Carlos, it could have been a win for the red and whites going into next week’s second leg.

With ten minutes on the clock, the Rayo number two made a stunning reaction save to deny Vietto what looked to be a certain goal after he volleyed Carrasco’s free-kick towards him.

The Belgian winger then had a golden opportunity of his own, but was thwarted by Juan Carlos as he tried to go round him with a timely challenge.

Rayo were also looking for a winner of their own at the other end as 17 year-old substitute Joni Montiel caused havoc, but the game fizzled out and ended all square.

Thanks to the away goal, Atleti have the advantage at the half-way stage in the tie, but will need a good performance in the return match against a team with nothing to lose.

On Sunday, we travel to Celta Vigo for a crucial clash in La Liga, before facing Rayo again next Thursday night.

Rayo Vallecano Atlético Madrid
Rayo Vallecano 11 Atlético Madrid
Nacho 35'Saúl 67'
Competition Copa del Rey (16)
Location Vallecas
Date 06 January 2016
Kick Off 22:05 CET

Team Lineups

Rayo Vallecano
Juan Carlos
Zhang (66')
Bebe (80')
Miku (75')
Substitutes used
Quini (66')
Montiel (75')
Embarba (80')
Atlético Madrid
Augusto (57')
Óliver (57')
Torres (76')
Substitutes used
Saúl (57')
Vietto (57')
Jackson (76')

Match Stats

On Target
Yellow Cards
Red Cards
  • BlasiusMagnus

    any opinions about kranevitter and augusto?
    i couldn’t watch the game. altought i tried to watch it on stream for 5 minutes. and guess when did rayo score? after 1-0 i didn’t feel like i need another stroke, so i went to sleep. 😀
    anyway in that 5 minutes, i saw that kranevitter was working quite hard.

  • Urban

    Its physically painful to watch Atleti this season, but thank God we have a ton of good luck. Thus I think that our results may be deceiving. I am really scared we will run out of this luck and this January and February may prove horrible to us, unless Cholo and the lads finally sort out our play.

  • Usavicente Calderon

    I know that this was what I refer to as the “Substitution Game,” meaning that the starters were not on the field. Atletico needs to learn how to keep the ball. Just kicking it down the field was not working. Once the subs came on at the 55 minute mark, there was definitely an improvement on the field. The game was frustrating to watch, but I think things are about to turn around.

  • Koke

    Saul has quickly become one of my favorite players over the past 8 months. He’s so young but he’s already so brave, humble, confident, hardworking, and adaptable. He plays whatever position Simeone tells him to and he does it well, he works hard in the middle of the park and uses his athleticism well, he hustles back to his own goal to defend and hustles into the opposition box to score goals. Obviously he doesn’t pass like Xavi, dribble like Iniesta, tackle like Mascherano, bulldoze players like Yaya Toure or shoot like Gerrard, but he performs all of those midfielder tasks well. Such a well rounded player. In my unpopular opinion, he’s been more important this season than Koke. Think of all the goals he’s scored in difficult games, and he’s always the one to open the scoring. It would be a real crime if he loses a lot of playing time to our two new arrivals.

    Kranevitter played pretty well, and I think he will come good for us. His passing was ambitious at times but often fairly effective. I missed a lot of the first half trying to find a stream to watch, so I don’t know about Augusto’s performance.

    I am getting so tired of Simeone’s tactics and lineups. A typical 3 man midfield should include ONE attacking mid, ONE center mid/box to box, and ONE defensive mid. SOMETIMES two defensive mids if you want to be really conservative. However, Simeone played two defensive mids at the same time, arguably 3 if you want to count Thomas. What’s more, he plays Oliver, a center mid, on the right wing, where he is completely ineffective. With so little creativity in the front 6 players, there is no wonder at all why we struggle to score a lot of goals.

    Torres deserves respect because he is a legend of the sport and gave so much to Atleti, Liverpool, and Spain. However all the love and respect in the world doesn’t hide the fact that he has been awful for a while now. He isn’t fast, he is a clumsy dribbler, and lately he isn’t even working hard. I couldn’t find him on my screen most of the time, even when we were attacking – he was just walking. Yes, sometimes he has his genius moments but they are small victories in a sea of mediocrity. It’s like he isn’t even trying anymore. We should not keep him next season. Someone like Pato could be a cheap replacement. I want Torres to go to the MLS and he a huge star there, hopefully scoring for fun.

    Vietto gets better every game. Carrasco was an inspired signing, hopefully he develops his game more like Griezmann did, because right now Carrasco only looks at home on the wing, when he cuts into the midfield or goes into the box he looks less effective. Moya is a good goalie but Oblak is much better and fully deserves the No 1 spot. Hopefully we can dominate Rayo at home.

  • Arjit Barua

    Definitely agree, Saul has been more decisive than Koke this year. Hope to see him keep his place on the team.

  • BlasiusMagnus

    i don’t think we should get another striker if torres leaves. there’s griezmann, vietto and jackson. the latter 2 should get more minutes.

  • Hannu

    We should get Borja Baston back!

  • BlasiusMagnus

    wow, yeah, i would dig that. totally forgot about him.

  • AndersAT

    I agree Saul has been great. The future sure looks bright with Koke, Saul, kranevitter and Thomas and Oliver although he needs to up his game both in the center of the pitch and on the sides.

    It is definitely to defensive with 3 DM in midfield, but then again simeone is a result oriented coach, an in a two legged cup setting his strategy has proved to be quite effective, don’t lose the away game preferably getting an away goal and win at the Calderon.

    I actually think his line-ups are generally ok. He is typically fielding one DM (Gabi) one box-box (Saul) and two offensive midfielders with two forwards. But we seem to have a problem with the link up between the players which is hard to explain. I don’t think simeone or the tactic is necessarily to blame because we are basically playing the same tactics as the last 3 seasons where we have played some fine attacking football (of course still with focus on defensive duties which is fine). I think it is time to put some of the blame on the attacking players including Koke, correa, Oliver, Torres, Jackson and to a extend carrasco for not performing when they get the chance. I don’t really understand the glorification of Oliver, he hasn’t really showed anything other than glimpses, and he has gotten a good deal of chances even though he had mostly been played out wide, but it is the same position Koke has been played in and he has been moving around the pitch with some freedom quite effectively and I don’t see why Oliver couldn’t do the same. Perhaps we miss Arda more than we think…

    I am pretty sure the players will come good in time, but probably not this season. I agree that Torres should go down the pecking order, with Vietto improving quite a lot in my opinion.

  • KC

    Very frustrating game to watch. Simeone is very conservative in his approach. For the first 55-60 minutes he basically played 10 players on defense and left Torres alone against 2 or 3 defenders. Of course he is going to be discouraged and isolated. I agree, his play has been inconsistent, but the service has been appalling when he is the lone attacker. As soon as Simeone changed to a more attacking formation Saul scores. Simeone is a Great Manager and understands his squad, but occasionally he needs to play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 when the game dictates a more attacking style. Torres has always been great when you get him the ball in space going forward. Atleti simply does not play that way and it shows because Torres goals usually come on a quick counter attack, when there is space, not from the open play build up. By the way, Griezmann benefits greatly by playing behind the lone striker. Griezmann would not be successful as a true #9 on an island!

  • Rashid

    l think we should sell Jacson….. 🙁

    and bring Borja Baston instead

  • Hannu

    Yeah exactly! Come on, we sold Mandzu after his 20 goals and Jackson has 2! goals this far. It really looks like he wont find his form with us and dont see why we should keep him after this kind of performances. Borja, Griezmann, Vietto and maybe Torres would be great.