Atlético de Madrid

The love that hurts.

  • About Me

    26 year old in New York; Passionate fan of the beautiful game; lover of Argentina (los Albicelestes); long-suffering, devoted supporter of Atlético Madrid (los Rojiblancos) for the past 13 years.
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Archive for December, 2007

Final Blog Entry of 2007

Posted by atleti on December 30, 2007

Back to work for Los Colchoneros! The squad–including Maniche— had a light training session today (Sunday) after a week off for the Christmas holiday. 150 supporters showed up to see the team in action.

Leo Franco & Maxi didn’t participate due to injury. Maxi’s knee injury seems minor, he should be fully fit in time for our Sunday game.

Some good news in terms of injuries: Motta & Seitaridis trained in the gym, separately. On the road to recovery…

Tomorrow they’ll train again in preparation for Wednesday’s Copa home clash (2-January) against Granada 74.

Reminder: we won the away leg, 1-2.

Anyway, the transfer window will be open soon enough, but it won’t matter much to Atleti since the club have said over & over again that there won’t be any winter signings. Still, the transfer window is something I look forward to, from a general footballing point of view.

Enough of my rambling, have a safe New Year everyone!

I can’t wait for Liga to resume!

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Posted in Atletico Madrid, Giorgios Seitaridis, Maniche, Maxi Rodriguez, Thiago Motta | 9 Comments »

Some Good News

Posted by atleti on December 29, 2007

I read this much earlier today, but it’s worth writing about, even if only briefly because I assume everyone knows by now anyway:

The club have increased  Agüero’s release clause to €55 million. He’s been in a bit of a funky patch recently, but that still doesn’t take away from the quality striker that he has shown himself to be this season.

I had read maybe a day earlier that Juventus are set to spend  €60-65 million this summer– the increased clause alleviates some concern of losing him.

As for Kun, he had some good things to say about the improvement:
“I’m delighted with this agreement […] Atlético has great players and an international reputation, and I want to stay here for many years to help the club achieve something big.”

He’s a good kid.

INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES
Some of our players were involved in international friendlies with their hometown regions: Reyes & Jurado played for Andalucía in a 4-1 victory against Zambia. Mista & Valera played for their native Murcia against Equatorial Guinea (1-0 win).

READING AROUND
I read a very thought-provoking blog entry yesterday, by fellow blogger “pobre atleti”. I’ll share a few of his points here. Firstly, he puts into question the length of time that our current players have been with the club: our longest-serving player is Antonio López, who has been with us for about 6 seasons, and is hardly a regular starter. Leo Franco, Pablo & Perea have been at the club for 4 seasons. We then have several players who have been here for only 2 seasons (Mista, Pernía, Jurado, Eller, Ze Castro, Seitaridis).

When he puts it that way, this certainly spells out a recipe of inconsistency, no? Consistency has always been a lingering problem for us. With so much movement in & out of the club, it’s difficult to develop a true (quality) core of regular players.  We shuffle all too frequently.

Who has left the club prematurely (for various reasons)? Torres, Arizmendi, Gabi, Manuel del Moral, et al.

“Pobre Atleti” asks, “What is it about the club that no one wants to stay…? I cannot remember the last player to retire at Atleti after spending an entire sporting career at the club.” Also asking, why did the club let go of the likes of Gabi, Gronkjaer, Kezman, Petrov, Pínola, only to replace them with players of similar quality. Well-managed clubs (take your pick) don’t act in this way– it’s counterproductive.

“Pobre Atleti” also asks the question I’ve brought up here recently (and have thought about over the years): Why has the club shelled out money for the likes of “Javi Moreno, José Mari, Mussampa, Nano, Nikolaidis, Álvaro Novo, Rodrigo Fabri, Pato Sosa, Velasco, Pernía, Eller, Cleber Santana”, et al— all players who have added little, if any, quality to the side. Simply poor decisions– average, at best.

The final, and ultimately main point of the blog entry is that it would be unwise to get rid of Maniche at this stage of the season, for financial reasons & because letting him go would require us to find an adequate (not to mention adaptable) replacement in the middle of the season in a short period of time. Highly unrealistic. It’s a valid point– one that makes me rethink my own stance on the Maniche situation.

Posted in Atletico Madrid, Maniche, Sergio Aguero | 17 Comments »

2007: A Colchonero Photo Review

Posted by atleti on December 27, 2007

Let’s take a brief look back.  

“My heart will always be rojiblanco.” 

You can’t talk about 2007 without mentioning the departure of El Niño, the symbol of Atlético since the club’s return to the top flight in ’02. Unfortunately, his final season with the club ended on a disastrous note: we failed to secure a UEFA spot & had to settle for Intertoto.

 The club also set a date (2010 to be exact) to relocate from the beloved Vicente Calderón to a larger capacity stadium–a plan that has upset many supporters.

With Torres out of the picture & new stadium plans in the works, the future seemed grim & uncertain, at the time.

Then things took a bit of a positive turn. We signed Raúl Garcia– our most consistent player so far this season.

And then we signed Forlán, a proven Liga striker.

All the while, we continued to let go of players. Petrov, a supporter favourite, had his time at Atleti hampered by injury, particularly his final season with the club.

The club immediately signed a new player, Simao, our favourite left winger & free kick specialist.

We let go of quite a few rubbish players, too (Costinha pictured; Luccin was another piece of crap).

We also added questionable players to the squad, namely in the form of whining Reyes.

2007 was also the year we missed out on signing one player in particular…

Despite that, the 07/08 season started out brightly enough: Kun in particular has played with far more confidence & edge than his first season at the club. He & the Uruguayan have formed quite an effective strike partnership.

Long-term injured players have finally returned to action, namely Miguel.

So far, there have been plenty of memorable moments this season…

…as well as some forgettable ones…

Like most years, it’s been a rollercoaster of extreme highs & lows. It’s part of being an Atleti supporter. ‘Bendita Locura’ as they say.

Who knows what will be in store for us in 2008? Success, hopefully. Let this be the year that we win some silverware, I say! Whether it be in the form of Copa or UEFA or both.

I wish all my readers a ‘próspero año nuevo’!

PS::::

Something to keep in mind, our January fixtures:
2: home to Granada (Copa)
6: away to Deportivo (Liga)
13: home to Valencia (Liga)
20: home to Real Madrid (Liga)
27: away to Mallorca (Liga)

Some good news: Kun will be available to play on the 6th.

The rumour mill is out of control: read some of them in the comments section of the previous entry.

Posted in Atletico Madrid | 1 Comment »

Jornada 17: Atlético de Madrid 1 Espanyol 2

Posted by atleti on December 23, 2007

Los Colchoneros drop points at home after having two players sent off.

Another strange night at el Vicente Calderón. I don’t know how to break it down, so I’ll just write up an overview with some thoughts. Firstly, Abbiati had a very good game & kept us alive for as long as he could. Forlán‘s presence in the front-line was immense- visible and industrious.

In the first 10 minutes, I felt that Espanyol looked the better of the two sides, more focused with clear attacks.

Unfortunately, the shit hit the fan in the 29′ when Agüero was sent off. Yes, he was being hounded by Torrejón, but that is no excuse for his conduct. It was a brash, inexcusable reaction by Kun– a reaction that cost us the game, unfortunately. Having said that, after his expulsion, I felt the team played with a bit more urgency. Spectacular free-kick by Simao in the 37′ eased some apprehension, but not much as Espanyol continued to press forward for an equaliser.

Miraculously, the ref failed to see the blatant hand-ball of Raúl in the penalty area. Poor refereeing, but one that allowed us to finish the 1st half with a goal advantange.

Espanyol came back from half-time on fire, taking advantage of their one-man advantage; Tamudo scored a 52′ equaliser without much trouble. Honestly, no one was marking him. Our defenders fell asleep at the wheel.

The shit hit the fan again, literally 3 minutes after the equaliser, when Pernía was harshly given a second yellow for a foul on Tamudo.

Aguirre began to ring in the changes:

58′ Maxi out (didn’t play particularly well), Antonio López in. Basically, a substitution to replace Pernía.

Forlán had two fantastic opportunities to restore our lead: one with the help of Antonio López (Kameni halted this one) and another a few minutes after that.

Aguirre made another substitution in the 74′: Simao out, Jurado in. Strange substitution, I thought. Any thoughts on it?

At this point, I was hoping we’d escape with a point. Wishful thinking.

In the 85′, Espanyol’s Luis García scored a goal thanks to a bit of brilliance by de la Peña; simply impossible for Abbiati.

Our Luis García came on for Raúl. By then, the game was over. Espanyol maintained the bulk of position until full-time.

I can only blame the ref for so much: With the exception of a few, we played terribly, with 11, 10 and 9.

Our midfield struggled against that of Espanyol’s; Raúl needs a stronger central midfielder partner. Hopefully, Motta will return from holiday break fit because, at this point, who the hell knows if we’re going to bring in reinforcements in January.

Aguirre on the game:
“It was a strange game in which we played for a long time with ten men, and then nine for longer. Eleven against ten is complicated, but at ten we managed to score. Nine, though, was too much advantage for them and it was only a matter of time […] I only have praise for my players.”

Aguirre on the Maniche situation:
“Maniche? We’re on holiday now, and when we get back we’ll see how things go in training and matches […] What happens in the locker room stays there. That’s how I’ve always worked, and I’ll continue to do so.”

Posted in Atletico Madrid, Christian Abbiati, Diego Forlan, Jurado, Maniche, Sergio Aguero, Simao Sabrosa, Thiago Motta | 17 Comments »

Jornada 17: Atlético de Madrid v Espanyol

Posted by atleti on December 22, 2007

So, most sports papers are focusing El Clásico (Real visit Barcelona) and I can’t blame them. It’s an incredibly tight table at the moment, so both clubs want the 3 points, not to mention bragging rights. I’ll definitely be watching it as the result affects Atleti’s climb to the top.

Now, having said that, Atleti’s game against Barcelona’s crosstown neighbours is also one to watch as both clubs are eager to climb up the table as well, especially  our favourite, Atleti.

STARTING 11: Abbiati; Perea, Pablo, Eller, Pernía; Cléber, Raúl García, Maxi, Simao; Agüero and Forlán.

SUBS: Falcón; Antonio López; Luis García; Jurado; Reyes; Mista; Valera.

Jurado is fit to play again after a few weeks out with injury.

Where’s Maniche, you ask?
It’s said in the Spanish press that he is being punished by the club for faking an injury– in order to skip out on the Copa game. This hasn’t been confirmed one way or another on the official website. However, the club have officially said they are open to offers for the Portuguese midfielder in January…

If this is the case, and it seems to be so, then good riddance (if a lucrative offer was made). He has been an important player so far this season, but that sort of behaviour is unprofessional, selfish, and shows a lack of committment. Shame, really.

This isn’t the first time Maniche has been punished by the club for something similar, which resulted in exclusion from a few games (if I remember correctly).

Anyway, Moving On…Here are the basics to the game:

ESPANYOL’S PREVIOUS 5 RESULTS IN LIGA
Espanyol 1-0 Levante
Zaragoza 3-3 Espanyol
Espanyol 1-1 Barcelona
Osasuna 1-2 Espanyol
Espanyol 2-1 Athletic

PREVIOUS ATLETI V ESPANYOL RESULTS
06/07: 1-2 loss
05/06: 1-1 draw
04/05: 0-0 draw
03/04: 2-0 win
02/03: 3-3 draw

NOTEWORTHY: Maxi will play against his ex-club- Espanyol were the club that gave him the opportunity to play in Europe.

The top goal-scorer of Espanyol is supporter favourite Raúl Tamudo. Other players to watch out for: his strike partner Luis García.  Another player worth mentioning is Kameni, their goalkeeper, whom I think is perhaps one of the most underrated goalkeepers.

Bottom-line: We’re confident, playing at home, and must win to keep the table tight and remain in a Champions spot.

Posted in Atletico Madrid, Maniche | 10 Comments »

UEFA: Atlético de Madrid draw Bolton Wanderers

Posted by atleti on December 22, 2007

Not bad at all!

We meet Gary Megson’s Bolton at the Reebok Stadium on Wednesday 13th or Thursday 14th February 2008, with the return leg at el Vicente Calderón the following week on the 21st.

Jesús García Pitarch’s thoughts on the draw:
They weren’t our preferred opponent and, as such, we do not like Bolton. But we’re not afraid of them, quite the opposite. As they are a Premier League club, I’m certain that the world will put much value [into our victory against them].”

“We are confident in the strength, the attitude, and the quality of our team.”

President Cerezo on the draw:
“Bolton is a tough opponent, at this stage there is no such thing as a small opponent. They play in the Premier League, but Atlético have enough quality to eliminate them. We are all confident in making it to the following round of UEFA.”

Gary Megson on the draw:There are no easy games at this stage in the competition. Atlético are going well at the moment– they’re third in La Liga & it’s certainly going to be a challenge, but one that I’m looking forward to and I know the players are too.”

Their most noteworthy player at the moment is main striker Nicolas Anelka. I say ‘at the moment’ because there is a little speculation that he’ll part ways with the club in January.

The club is also home to two Spaniards: Iván Campo, a main staple to their midfield, & on-loan midfielder Mikel Alonso, Xabi’s brother.

Bolton are most known for their ugly, long ball style of play. Hey, someone had to say it!

If we advance to the round of 16, we face Sporting Lisbon or FC Basel.

Be back with a mini-preview, once the squad list becomes available.

[NB: I’m away from my usual blogging location, but not cut off from the Internet.]

Posted in Atletico Madrid, UEFA | 1 Comment »

UEFA: Atlético de Madrid 2 Panathinaikos 1

Posted by atleti on December 20, 2007

Los Colchoneros celebrate the win that sends them to the top of Group B.

TACTICS: Abbiati; Perea, Zé Castro (Reyes 60′), Eller, Antonio López; Raúl García, Cléber (Simao 46′), Luis García, Maxi; Forlán and Kun Agüero (Pablo 90+5).

GOLS
33′ Salpingidis
73′ Luis García (tremendous bit of skill by Kun & Reyes)
90+3′ Simao (GOLAZO free-kick; happy ending)

CLICK HERE TO SEE GOALS.

It wasn’t the greatest game, but our quality and ‘fighting spirit’ trumped that of the Greeks. We wanted it more, pushed for the win, and got it.  Mission Accomplished.

Panathinaikos proved to be a tougher nut to crack: for the most part, they were a well-organised, defensively-tight team. Oh, it certainly helped them that the German referee was unusually harsh on los rojiblancos– he disallowed two blatantly ONSIDE goals and, according to a few accounts, wrongly sent off Raúl.

What have I learned from this game?

*That Simao is our free kick specialist. OK, I already knew this! This game served as further confirmation.

*That Aguirre clearly wanted to avoid a Champions League loser as all of his substitutions were attacking players– to the point that he, again, sacrificed a defender (this time Zé Castro). Brave move by the Mexican– I wish he’d do this more often in Liga.

*We were OK in defence, but lacked presence in midfield, perhaps largely due to the absence of Maniche?

*That we came out more attack-minded in the second half.

I followed the game via live-text, so if you watched it in person or on live video, I’d be interested to know any specifics comments you had on the overall team performance or specific players. 

Group B (GROUP PHASE COMPLETED)
Atlético 10

Panathinaikos 9
Aberdeen 4
København 3
Lokomotiv Moskva 2

ROUND OF 32 HERE WE COME!

AUPA ATLETI

(Next up: home to ESPANYOL this Sunday.)

(I’LL BE AWAY FROM THE BLOG UNTIL EARLY SATURDAY; New entry will be up for the game against Espanyol.)

Posted in Atletico Madrid, Luis Garcia, Simao Sabrosa | 4 Comments »

UEFA: Atlético de Madrid v Panathinaikos

Posted by atleti on December 19, 2007

Reminder: It’s tomorrow, Thursday. The final group stage fixture.

UEFA’s article on the game is informative, as always.

STARTING 11 (confirmed on the official website): Abbiati; Perea, Zé Castro, Eller, Antonio López; Raúl García, Cléber Santana, Luis García, Maxi; Forlán and Kun Agüero.

SUBS: Falcón; Pernía; Reyes; Miguel; Mista; Pablo; Simão.

Honestly, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t win Panathinaikos.

1- We’re playing at home.

2- Our starting lineup is strong.

3- Panathinaikos tend to struggle when they play away from home.

If this isn’t a recipe for a win, I don’t know what is! So, yes, I 100% expect Atleti to collect the 3 points. By doing so we’ll top the group & avoid a Champions League loser. A draw would only benefit the Greeks…

Aguirre on the game:
“I sense good things coming from my team. In the UEFA Cup and at home we’ve been a serious squad, we come out quickly for the matches… [Panathinaikos] are a great team, they have some forwards who control the ball well. They’re a squad that unfolds their play perfectly…It’s fundamental for us to finish as group leaders for the match-ups in the next round. We’re not scared of anybody, but it would be better if we could play an opponent of a lesser level…But I think that we’ll arrive at this match feeling fresh, and then we’ll see who plays against Espanyol.”

So, that’s that.

It won’t be on TV, unfortunately, so I’ll follow it via Internet, like a lot of other folks.

GROUP B (at the moment)
Panathinaikos 9
Atlético 7
København 3
Lokomotiv Moskva 2
Aberdeen 1

RUMOUR MILL
A Bola has suggested that Maniche might leave in January, as he is attracting strong interest in England & Italy. It also claims OPorto & Bayern Munich might be interested in his services. It’s a VERY vague rumour, but it’s worth noting since, at some point, we will be keen on bringing in a more creative midfielder.

Speaking of which, 2 more weeks until the transfer window opens. Aguirre & Co have mentioned times & time again that no new players will be brought in. So, I’m not expecting much. Perhaps they’re only considering loan or free transfers at this. We’ll have to wait & see.

Reminder: Maniche’s contract ends at the end of the season. According to reports, he might not want to leave in January as it might jeopardise his spot in the Portugal NT (EURO ’08).

Posted in Atletico Madrid, Rumours, UEFA | 20 Comments »

Moving on…

Posted by atleti on December 18, 2007

Two more days (the 20th) until our final UEFA game, home to Panathinaikos. A win will mean finishing #1.

Today, Antonio López rejoined the team after taking time off to mourn the recent death of his sister. Best wishes to him & his family.

Agüero was back from his trip to the  FIFA World Player Gala, where he won the award for best player of the U-20 World Cup. He had an opportunity to mingle with the likes of Kaká, his good friend Messi, Ronaldo, et al. Congratulations to him!

Maniche seems to have recovered from that slight injury he picked up a few days ago; he trained with the rest of his teammates. Hopefully he’ll be back to good form in time for Thursday.

Meanwhile, Jurado & Seitaridis seem to be recuperating well from their respective injuries. Both trained in an alternative session with the physical therapist.

Motta, Leo Franco & Pablo (gastroenteritis) didn’t participate in today’s session.

Posted in Antonio Lopez, Atletico Madrid, Giorgios Seitaridis, Leo Franco, Maniche, Pablo Ibanez, Sergio Aguero, Thiago Motta | Leave a Comment »

Jornada 16: Recreativo 0 Atlético de Madrid 0

Posted by atleti on December 16, 2007

Atleti maintain a Champions spot, but miss a golden opportunity to distance themselves from #4 Villarreal.

TACTICS: Abbiati; Perea, Pablo, Eller, Pernía; Maxi, Raúl García, Cléber, Simão (Reyes 66’); Forlán and Kun Agüero (Luis García 66’)

Simply put, this was the game of two goal-keepers. Both Italians, Sorrentino & Abbiati, gave solid performances.

Recre had a few good opportunities. Atleti had better opportunities & dominated play for significant portions.

Forlán, it must be said, had a good game & was truly unlucky not to have scored a goal for his efforts.

MOVING ON…The substitutions seemed off to me. I was surprised to see Simão come off for Reyes, since the Portuguese winger was playing fairly well. Kun, in my opinion, should have stayed on…how else are we supposed to find a winning goal if we take out one of our strikers? Thirdly, Pernía & Cléber didn’t look particularly inspiring. Pernía was rather sloppy while Cléber simply has no presence in the midfield. Why not take out Cléber for Miguel?

Anyway, the result is another set-back. It’s discouraging to drop points against the likes of Recre, Murcia, Almeria…

I don’t know what to else to say…I’m disappointed.

Upwards & onwards, always.

Next up: home to Panathinaikos (UEFA) on the 20th & home to Espanyol (LIGA) on the 23rd.

Posted in Atletico Madrid, Christian Abbiati, Diego Forlan, Sergio Aguero, Simao Sabrosa | 11 Comments »