In Tallinn last night, Atlético captain Diego Godín lifted the European Super Cup aloft and in doing so, ended a long-term curse – until now, it has been Real Madrid who have won whenever they have crossed paths with Atlético in Europe. That’s been the story since that nerve-racking tie-breaker in the semi-finals in Zaragoza way back in 1959; right up until when the fifth penalty hot the back of the net in Milan. That trend came to an end however yesterday in a European derby played on the day when the capital was in a party mood for the Virgen de la Paloma festivities. It’s another step in the Atlético success story which Simeone has been managing superbly. But it’s not just El Cholo. Atlético are in a glowing moment of form and last night’s trophy win simply underlines that.
Entertaining and effective Atlético
Not only did Atlético win the match, they were also wonderful to watch. There was a few tweaks to the team with recent arrivals Rodrigo and Lemar looking classy and self-assured; in Diego Costa they had a hero right from the 49th second when he left Sergio Ramos and Varane stranded to rifle in the opener up until he quit the pitch in extra-time after having scored another and played a part in the winner. It was Atlético at their best - with just one exception, Griezmann, who has had less preparation time than the rest and looked a little off-colour. But the rest played well – as did El Cholo, with his substitutions, which enabled him to control the rhythm of the game during the critical moments. Simeone has a large squad and he used it with great intelligence. Atleti are looking strong as we gear up for the start of LaLiga.
Madrid lacking drive
They were up against a Madrid side which was almost identical to Zidane’s with one difference – there was no Cristiano. Some people claim that Madrid concedes a lot of goals without Cristiano and it’s true and they also lose that rebellious streak they had. It was Cristiano who gave Madrid ambition, and that rubbed off on the rest of the team. And it was Diego Costa who performed precisely that role last night for Atlético; Madrid lacked a renegade in the ranks. Benzema and Bale blow hot and cold and are too conformist. Sergio Ramos hasn’t had enough pre-season training to be in top shape and he came off worse in his ongoing battles with Costa. This was Madrid’s first real test without Cristiano and it will be interesting to see how the fans take this defeat; a painful one for them, exasperated by the feeling that now they have no standard bearer to look to.