And it happened. It had been coming for a while if the truth be told. It ended where it started, with La Real. It may have been offside and Atleti fans do have a right to feel slightly aggrieved as there were some poor referee decisions made but the truth is that Real Sociedad deserved to win. Simply they did what most teams should have been doing for a while, they played Atlético at their own game. When you go toe to toe with Barca there is always a strong chance that you’ll pay a heavy price but when you play Atlético at their own game, tight defence and counter attacking football, you catch them out. At the Vicente Calderon, Simeone’s men are forced to entertain. It has been successful so far at home but away other teams have found Atleti out and for that reason, their away form has been poor since November.
Last night, Atlético needed some magic. Last season they had Diego Ribas to create some magic in the midfield. This season they have no one. Ronaldo and Messi are brilliant in these type of games. They can, with the flick of a finger, turn a game on its head and evidence of this was no clearer than this weekend. Some Atleti fans claim that Falcao is of the same calibre but nights like last night prove that he isn’t. Rojiblanco fans may not like reading that but the simple fact is that when teams play a defensive high line, Falcao gets caught out. He is forced to track back and this doesn’t suit him at all. Last night he was lost. Diego Costa bullied the La Real defence but he couldn’t find his attacking team-mate. It was even suggested on Twitter during the game that Costa’s good form has coincided with Falcao’s poor displays. A statement that grows in strength after nights like last night.
Arda Turan is another player who hasn’t been performing well. The Turk caused controversy when he said that he wanted to play for a Champions League side. Fans have forgiven him but his form has been poor of late. Last night he seemed more interested in long-range shots than winning for the team. He fired over the bar and failed to supply team mates in better positions. On the left midfield he is in his element but in the centre of the park he is lost. These are not complaints just from last night. Atlético have been riding their luck lately and last night they came undone.
The defence that has been so strong returned to its old ways against the Basque side. Once Xabi Prieto scored early in the 2nd half, they lost the formation. Atleti were lucky not to concede again and if La Real would have tried to attack more they would certainly have scored again. On what should have been a night of celebration for Thibaut Courtois was overshadowed by the defeat. Courtois was aiming to break Abel Resino’s record of 800 minutes without conceding at the Calderon. On the 34th minute last night he broke the record and the Calderon applauded and chanted his name. It is an impressive feat for such a young keeper and he only continues to impress. Last night his record-breaking exploits got some headlines but not the amount it deserved. As for Simeone, he was far from impressed.
As he walked into the press room, it was clear that Simeone was livid. He normally manages to keep his cool but had an argument with one journalist over the role of Oliver Torres at the club. Simeone admitted that his side had not been good enough and that mistakes had cost them. He also added that the club needed to get back to work and fix the problems it has. Atlético are still odds on favourite to seal 3rd place but the major issue with last night’s defeat was that the loss let arch rivals Real Madrid go above them for the first time this season. Atlético had led for a long time and fans dreamed with the possibility of pipping their rivals to 2nd. That looks difficult but 3rd looks nailed on, as Valencia and Málaga dropped points too this weekend.
Around the Grounds
Tense atmosphere at Rayo this weekend but three vital points keep the European dream alive. Goals from Piti and Chori saw Paco Jémez take all the points but it was the stands that made all the headlines. Rayo’s Ultras, Los Bukaneros, were arrested last week. Thirteen in total. The police claimed they had been arrested after a complaint was made by the club, although the club don’t believe them. This weekend President Presa was subjected to chants and banners and needed to have bodyguards all around the Presidential box. This promises to get worse before it gets better and it is overshadowing all the great work being done on the pitch.
Ronaldo and Messi both came on and sealed the wins. A big week ends for Real Madrid as another major one starts for Barca. Cesc Fabregas endured some whistles and boos from his own fans as he complained about the pressure he was subjected to from them. Villa had a poor game but Alexis Sánchez looked the part and Jordi Roura has a selection headache before the Milan game.
Big wins for Real Betis but the biggest win of the Jornada was at Mallorca who beat Sevilla at home and are just two points off safety. Zaragoza could only manage a draw and some worrying times ahead for them. A draw for Levante at Getafe saw the Madrid Coach Luis García involved in an incident with Levante’s assistant Coach.