Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Weight of history hurts Atlético

The press had been building up this game as the most exciting Madrid derby in years. Atlético finally were playing like a team that deserves to be in the Champions League spots and Real, though in front by a considerable margin, had just been knocked out of the Copa del Rey and their win at Levante the previous week had been rather a lacklustre affair. On the night, it took Raúl (yes, him again, they really must hate him at the Calderón) just 31 seconds to put Real in front, after Robinho had robbed Pablo of the ball twice by the touchline and played it back for his captain to fool the keeper with a trademark goal.

It was not all plain sailing for Real in the first half. The home crowd egged their team on with an enthusiasm rarely seen at the Bernabéu and Casillas had to once again don his saintly garb to keep Agüero out either with his hands or with the help of the woodwork. Pepe suffered a recurrence of his injury early on and had to be replaced by Ramos in the centre of defence, with Salgado (why, oh why, oh why) coming on for the Brazilian.

But, at the time when it hurt the most, just before half time, Van Nistelrooy pounced with a half-hit half-volley that put the game beyond the locals' reach and took the wind out of their sails (except for Agüero) for the entire second half. If Guti had had a better day, there could have been a couple more goals, but the scoreboard stayed put and the home fans went home with the certainty of another defeat at the hands of their bitterest rivals, making it 9 years since their last win over the blancos. At least they have the consolation of not having to face them again this season in their fight for a CL spot.

This win keeps Real firmly at the top of the standings, still seven points over Barcelona, whom they can't quite shake off, and twelve points over the third placed team and next Sunday's rivals, Villareal. The list of all the teams Real Madrid has beaten away from home so far this season makes for interesting reading:

  • Barcelona (2nd)
  • Villareal (3rd)
  • Atlético (4th)
  • Valencia (8th)
  • Getafe (12th)
  • Athletic (15th)
  • Levante (20th)

1 comment:

Elisa said...

Los Colchoneros have not been looking good after this loss. I hope they can get it together. So many games - Copa, Uefa, Liga, this will be a hard test for Atleti.