Paco Jemez, the Rayo Vallecano boss, was left furious: “We did not deserve anything more than what has happened on the field…we did everything, almost everything, badly.” And his side, after being so good on their opening day win over Elche, were bad. Alhough, it was not all their own doing, Atletico Madrid were also very good and made life hard for their visitors.
The hosts pressured their local rivals high up and all over the pitch on Sunday and with the same intensity they had displayed against Barcelona four days earlier. And, like they were against the Catalans, they were dangerous every time they swiftly broke forward. It was a game played at a frantic pace and it seemed to suit Diego Simeone’s men just fine. “We feel comfortable with this rhythm and uncomfortable in games that a slow and boring… we seem at our best in such a game,” said the smiling Coach.
Arda Turan was the star of the show, scoring one and setting up another two. Raul Garcia and Tiago Mendes, both given their first starts of the season, made their presence felt with the former scoring two and the latter one. Diego Costa also got in on the act, scoring for third time already this season. The only thing missing from Atleti’s performance was a David Villa goal and he did come close, very close, in the second half only to see his effort rebound off the crossbar.
It may be only two games into the new campaign, but Atleti have impressed and look ready to once again challenge the Real Madrid and Barcelona duopoly. Last week they ran out 3-1 winners at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan – never an easy place to travel to – and this weekend they scored five unanswered goals. No team has scored more. Suffice to say, they do not seem to be missing Radamel Falcao’s tiger-like instincts in the final third.
In fact, no team has probably performed better to date than Atletico Madrid – not even Barcelona. Yes, the Catalans were simply sublime last weekend against Levante. But, on Sunday night at La Rosaleda – a stadium where Barcelona had scored three or more in their last four visits – they struggled.
“We controlled the game in the opening period and we had chances but in the second period we could not exercise the same control and this gave Malaga opportunities,” said a concerned Tata Martino after the match. In the end Adriano’s solitary strike proved enough on a night where Barcelona were without Lionel Messi and where for the third game in a row Neymar started from the bench.
Malaga’s display against the champions will give Valencia a little bit of hope when they host them next week. Despite starting positively and playing some attractive football, Los Che fell to a miserable 3-1 defeat at the hands of Espanyol. A big turnaround is needed by Miroslav Djukic’s side if they are to end their six-year winless home streak against the Blaugrana.