Atletico Madrid‘s season is gaining speed and strength. Los Rojiblancos are currently second in the league table, level on points with leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand.
Their victory over Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday evening will have give them fresh impetus. It was their first ever victory over Barcelona in La Liga under Cholo Simeone, and will serve as putting the rest of the division on notice that the title charge is very much on.
City rivals Real Madrid dropped two points at Villarreal earlier in the afternoon, while rank outsiders Sevilla have also started slowly. Atleti were said, however, to be shocked by just how poor Barcelona were throughout their 1-0 victory over the Catalans.
“The Atletico players thought they were hallucinating the rival they found in front of them,” wrote David G. Medina in Marca.
“Not even the team’s veterans can remember such a poor and apathetic version of Barcelona. Simeone showed more hunger and a better footballing plan than Barcelona, who despite losing just 1-0 feel very far away from Atletico.
“Collectively and individuals, in 50/50 balls and in duels, on one side there was determination and on the other there was indifference.
“So relaxed were Barcelona that they allowed the substitutes to have conversations when they should be focused on a tense game, something unthinkable in Simeone’s philosophy. Diego Costa, for example, was passionately involved in the game from the stands despite being a substitute.
“This attitude gave Atletico its wings, with the hosts really going at Barcelona at the beginning of the second half when it should have been the other way around given that it was the Catalans who were behind on the scoreboard.
“By the time they finally plugged in, it was too late. Gerard Pique’s injury affected them and their final push never disturbed Atletico, who began and ended the game with a knife between their teeth.”
Barcelona will need to get themselves back together quickly. They face two consecutive weeks with Champions League clashes in foreign lands – this Tuesday in Ukraine and the following Wednesday in Hungary.
In between, they face Osasuna and Cadiz in La Liga, two clubs that look at games against Barcelona and Real Madrid as free hits and will be licking their lips at the prospect of adding insult to their injury.
Atleti host Lokomotiv Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday before a trip to another fallen giant, Valencia, in La Liga. Then, Simeone’s men host consecutive games against Bayern Munich and Valladolid. Fans of Los Rojiblancos will be hoping to keep the train moving.
Featured image courtesy of Atletico Madrid.