Huh? What the hell was that? For the second straight league match away from home, Atlético resembled the version of themselves spearheaded by Gregorio Manzano before Diego Simeone came to the rescue.
So much for a crisis. It took all of four minutes on Saturday for Atlético to puncture a pair of mortal wounds into Valladolid at the Vicente Calderón. Los Rojiblancos then sat back and watched as their opponents bled out for most of the evening before delivering the final death blow–thereby snapping an ugly streak of three goalless losses.
In one of the most enchanting nights at the Vicente Calderón in recent memory, Atlético soared to the top of the league table for the first time in 18 years by handily defeating Real Sociedad 4-0. Los Colchoneros honoured the glory days of their past by paying tribute to a fallen idol who fully embodied the spirit of the club’s halcyon days.
The stalemate continued between La Liga’s two giants when the first half of the campaign came to a close for the sides on Saturday. Atlético and Barcelona played to a second straight 0-0 draw, with the third version of the great battle of styles this season taking place at the Vicente Calderón.
Atlético capped off the best year in club history with yet another triumph at the unconquerable Vicente Calderón, though this 3-2 win came after a vigorously-contested battle against Levante. If ever there was a match to exemplify the era of ‘Cholo’, Sunday night’s was not it. Well, at least, not the beginning of it.
Atlético fooled around with Valencia in the opening half of Sunday’s encounter, waiting until after the break to land all the heavy blows in another knockout performance at the Vicente Calderón that ended in a 3-0 rout. Valencia came into the match having scored in their previous 26 league games, but Atleti completely snuffed out their attack on the night.
Atlético were able to best Elche 2-0 after a fiercely contested first half in which the scrappy hosts matched Simeone’s men in guts and intensity at the Estadio Martínez Valero. Second half goals by the Colchoneros’ dynamic duo of Koke and Diego Costa were enough to put out Fran Escribá’s charges’ fire.
Atlético pounded Getafe into submission on Saturday with a performance that bordered on downright cruelty. The 7-0 annihilation was the worst loss in los Azulones‘ history. The scoreboard also happened to mirror Atleti’s record at ‘Cholo Castle’ this season, with Simeone’s men picking up their seventh home win on the trot.
It was always going to be a tall order to come out of the Madrigal with the three points on Sunday. Without several key starters and visiting one of the league’s top clubs, Atlético were lucky to even come away with anything at all against a very strong Villarreal side. Given the circumstances and the opponent, a 1-1 draw is by no means a huge disappointment.
Atlético soundly defeated Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, shutting out their Basque foes 2-0 for their sixth straight win at the Vicente Calderón. Defended by 52,000 strong for this ‘Fan Club Day’ encounter, ‘Cholo Castle’ remains unconquered in the 2013/14 campaign.