Launched by its most unstoppable version of the season, fast-paced, precise, overflowing and incontestable, Atlético de Madrid reaffirmed itself with a formidable game against Valencia, which it overwhelmed from the first second, well above its opponent, and which knocked out with the goals from Griezmann, Carrasco and Lemar to consolidate third place, already five points behind Real Madrid’s second position, awaiting this Sunday’s clásico against Barcelona.
It is true that he needed WAS at a given moment, half an hour later, when they were winning 1-0, as certain as the foul on the other side of the field that caused Valencia’s counterattack and caused the cancellation of the 1-1 Hugo Hard It was evident or it was like the duel was an absolute expression of Atlético’s superiority to which the block led by Ruben Barajastill out of relegation, waiting for the Getafe score.
Atlético has arrived late to the League. Four months later. Too much time. Too many concessions. He did not know how to live, as Simeone says, with the lowest moments of the course, which now take their toll on him when he feels better than ever since he was League champion in 2020-21. He was so far from his head that today it seems unapproachable, for no reason that makes him believe that it is still possible, not even a game like this Saturday’s.
It’s the disappointment of the roller coaster he’s been through in the preceding four months. Without identity or calm, devoured by pressure and conflict. For the loss of an essence. Or because of the inability to reinvent himself as he did so many times in the past and as he has done from the 2022 World Cup onwards. The numbers are the best expression: ten consecutive days undefeated, winner of five of his last six duels, on the podium…
And with a splendid match against Valencia. Reactivated with a different personality, aware in any case that it is not -and will not be- a season as satisfactory as many previous ones, the most offensive, most conclusive Atlético, reunited with his people and with himself in the Metropolitanreinforces in its present that it is a team for more than settling for the eleventh consecutive classification for the Champions League.
The example against Valencia makes it unquestionable. Don’t speculate. Nor contemplate. He does not wait for his rival. He tackles it, overwhelms it and defeats it. There were no nuances in his proposal. He adds a confidence that he did not have before, adapting the team to the parameters in which his footballers feel best, launched from the 2022 World Cup onwards.
His opponent resisted until minute 23. Until then he moved on the wire, on the edge of the fall, devoured by any of the qualities of a football game. By position, by possession, by football, by occasions, by intensity, by ambition, by tension… Atlético was dizzying, but also with millimeter precision, at the first touch, unattainable for its rival, who ran behind shadows until the goal against and beyond.
Griezmann scored it. He appears everywhere when he attacks, everywhere when he defends. He is an invaluable footballer for this Atlético. Even from a bad pass, which bounced off his heel, he got gold inside the area, capable of redo it in the 1-0 goal when he put together his already unappealable shot with his left foot, just out of Mamardashvill’s reach.
Simeone’s voracious group did not score before because they lacked punch. His magnificent outing of the ball, his hectic transition, his stupendous deployment and his overflow in attack had come to nothing on the scoreboard until then. Even the fantastic play of fourteen passes that the goalkeeper appeased when Memphis, final finisher, passer before, like a futsal pivot, connected the shot to the service of Mario Hermosoat an incredible level.
In this aspect, Atlético is unstoppable… Or almost. He needed the intervention of the VAR to maintain the advantage after half an hour. Munuera Montero’s review on the monitor at the foot of the field invalidated the play that, moments later, led to the 1-1 score by Hugo Duro, amid the thunderous anger of more than 58,000 throats of the Metropolitan, due to a foul that everyone saw except the referee, due to a stomp from Foulquier to Memphis near the other area. The VAR warned him, he checked it on television and pointed out the infringement.
A fleeting illusion for Valencia, surpassed before and after by Atlético. He endured it with minimal damage until then, when the break appeared as a relief for the team led by Rubén Baraja, whose offensive options were limited. Because the rojiblanco team not only attacks with an expressive determination, but, above all, harasses the rival with tremendous pressure to lose the ball to build their next offensive. It doesn’t stop.
He doesn’t settle His departure in the second half ended definitively with Valencia, who had survived due to the saves of their goalkeeper, the best of all the visitors, who was responsible for the fact that the game had resumed action with just a 1-0. It was just a matter of a few minutes, four in particular, with another intervention by Mamardashvill, who could no longer reach everything: Carrasco connected with a wall with De Paul and finished the 2-0. An undoubted triumph.
Even more later. Atlético gets almost everything. Five minutes after Morata and Lemar entered the field, the striker -the only Spanish international in Luis de la Fuente’s first call-up- served the 3-0 to the French footballer, who finished off the game with a header. The rojiblanco team is launched. Valencia, with the reappearance of Cavani a month later (he came on to play the last 20 minutes), continues to suffer. The descent stalks him.
3 – Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Nahuel, Savic, Giménez, Hermoso, Carrasco (Correa, m. 70); Llorente (Barrios, m. 70), Koke (Witsel, m. 76), De Paul (Lemar, m. 62); Griezmann, Memphis (Morata, m. 62).
0 – Valencia: Mamardashvili; Foulquier, Comert, Cenk, Gaia; Thierry Correia (Lino, 62), Hugo Guillaume, Nico Gonzalez (Almeida, 70), Yunus Musah (Ilaix, 62); Hugo Duro (Cavani, 70) and Kluivert (Castillejo, 76).
goals: 1-0, m. 23: Griezmann. 2-0, m. 49: Carrasco. 3-0, m. 67: Lemar.
Referee: Munuera Montero (C. Andalusian). He yellow carded the locals Griezmann (m. 4) and Llorente (m. 42).
incidences: match corresponding to the twenty-sixth day of LaLiga Santander played at the Cívitas Metropolitano stadium in front of 58,317 spectators.