“It was a match full of passion against one of the best teams in Europe” – Juanfran
The Champions League clash between Atlético Madrid and the unbeaten Juventus on Wednesday, October 1st, could have gone either way, but ended with a much-needed three points for Atléti at the Calderon, who won 1-0.
It was a fast-paced, hard-played match from both sides, although largely uneventful until the 75th minute, riddled with penalties and fouls. Referee Felix Brych was certainly giving his whistle a work out. Ultimately, after a terrific cross from Juanfran, the ball was rolled into the net by Atléti left-winger Arda Turan after 75 minutes.
Atléti fans know that Arda’s goal was well-deserved; the Turkish international is one of the hardest working players in the squad, but it all could easily have gone the other way. The Turin-based side had not seen a competitive goal conceded under manager Massimiliano Allegriuve, who took on the job of head coach in July. Both squads were well matched; both played hard, aggressive football, and both defended superbly.
Juanfran told Spanish television following the match, “It was a match full of passion against one of the best teams in Europe.
“We did some great work and the win was deserved.”
French international Paul Pogba, aged just 21, showed signs of strain, as did members of both sides — Mandzukic was especially frustrated, at one point tossing away his face mask that covered a healing fractured nose that he picked up in Piraeus two weeks ago in the game against Olympiakos. Mandzukic’s irritation was something a wise and experienced Giorgio Chiellini capitalised on at one point by allowing the striker to foul him, which in turn earned a free kick for experienced World Cup star Chiellini (and Suarez bite victim) the in the 42nd minute.
It was terrific to see the class and form of the Italian side, who had 64% of possession throughout the match, although they collected six yellow cards for their trouble.
A point each would have been a fair result, but for Atlético Madrid, three points was what they absolutely needed in order to push for qualification from a tough Champions League group.
On the back of a 3-2 defeat against Olympiakos two weeks ago, Atlético went into this match treating it as a final. They defended well, closed down several attempts, but could have done with pushing the ball upfield a little more. It was frustrating to see Atléti fail to push, instead waiting to capitalise on a mistake from Juventus, which is ultimately what got them their goal.
Simeone told the press after the match, “Juventus is possibly the strongest team of the group. Our team has had great game consistency in the last two matches and has been much more constant.”
For Atlético fans, Simeone’s return to the touchline following his Champions League match ban (served at the Olympiakos match) and the four league match bans (four still to be served in the Spanish Cup), was welcomed. I have previously stated that Simeone’s influence is total throughout the club and that if Simeone wanted to coach the team from an Antarctic penguin research station, the players would still feel his influence.But there was no question in either today’s match or the 4-0 thrashing over Sevilla last weekend that the animated and always-entertaining Simeone is all-in.
At one point, Simeone, in his exuberance, kicked the ball away when it came close, earning him a stern ‘WTF?’ look from the referee. The fans loved, as we all do, Cholo’s antics—so long as he isn’t sent off for them.
Atléti now have their Champions League campaign back on track. Next up is Swedish side Malmö, who secured a 2-0 victory over Olympiakos. One might assume that since Atlético suffered defeat against Olympiakos, they might have something to worry about from Malmö, but if there’s one sure thing about Atléti, they are fierce and not to be underestimated.
According to The Guardian, Atlético fans unveiled a banner reading ‘Feared in Europe’ shortly before kick-off. They would be right.