It will never happen but it should. The Hague should issue an international arrest warrant for the organizers of La Liga. These men having been subjecting thousands of innocent people to a terrible and horrific experience, not once but twice a season. Now and again they dangle hope in front of fans and then they take it away, just like that. This Saturday, Atlético de Madrid had their best possible chance to beat Real Madrid in El Derbi since 1999 and what did they do? They bottled it and the terrible burden and misery that has been bestowed on Atleti fans continues.
This was the year, the one that the club would finally beat Real Madrid for the first time since 1999. We had been here before and there has been a month of false dawns. Jokes, lots of them, were starting to wear thin and fans were desperate for a win. This was the perfect opportunity. Mourinho’s men lost midweek and needed all their key players fit for this week’s important European tie. Even Real Madrid played down the importance of the tie but over at the Calderon, this was very important. A new advertisement was released and all at the club were hyped up. Add in the fact that the club was celebrating its 110th birthday and it was plain and simple: There was no better time. There was lots of hope around the ground before kick off but as the hour drew close, what used to be dread had turned to expectation. The time to deliver had come.
As the players walked out, they were greeted by a huge banner that reminded them that the club has been around for 110 years and there were plenty of legends in that group. Win on Saturday, and the starting XI, subs and Coaching staff would all be in those history books too. Even Real Madrid believed that it was Atlético’s game. This was their chance. Real Madrid had no Ronaldo, no Casillas, no Ramos and had Alonso on the bench. Surely, not even Atlético de Madrid, could mess this up!
But, mess it up they did. For many years the early goal has been a thorn in the side of Los Rojiblancos but this year they would be the ones who would be on the score sheet early. Atlético looked composed and they looked in control but Real Madrid don’t need second chances and the lead was short. After that Simeone and his men lost their way. They had chances but lots of players failed to show up. Mario has become one of La Liga’s most frustrating players. One game he is world-class and then in the next he is non-existent. Diego Costa can’t go a game without trying to wind someone up or falling on his arse. Falcao is just a shadow chasing the ball when the defence plays high up the pitch. As was mentioned a few weeks ago, Atlético started the season brightly because no one knew how to deal with them but as the season has progressed more and more teams have figured out Simeone’s game plan. From being a tactical genius, fans are now starting to question why the Argentine has failed to evolved the style of play. Why did he only bring on two subs against Los Blancos and why did his side drop their heads when they went a goal down?
While fans are still standing behind Simeone and no one is calling for his head, he has lost some of his shine. On Saturday fans expected him to lose his cool with the players. They expected a manager to come out and say that the performance was not befitting of the club but instead he played the game down and even tried to start an argument with a journalist over a petty detail. The Copa del Rey final is coming in May and now fans are dreading it. Real Madrid were there for the taking on Saturday with a makeshift defence and lots of reserves. Atleti choked and so the big question is how will they perform against a side of regular starters?
Around the Grounds
Barca and Athletic finished two all in San Mames. A last-minute goal from Ander meant that Barca would have to wait a little longer to open the Champagne.
It looks like Mallorca are doomed. They went one up on Saturday but then Zaragoza went two up, A late goal gave Manzano’s men hope but then Rochina sealed the win for Zaragoza.
The race for the Champions League and European qualification places took a big step. Rayo drew at home with Osasuna. Their supporters staged a demonstration where it appeared that they didn’t attend the game and left a big section behind the goal empty but they did really and just stood at the sides. Real Betis drew, Málaga beat Getafe but the big result of the weekend was at La Real who beat Valencia and are now favourites to take the final Champions League spot.