Having thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle and the atmosphere of going to the Vicente Calderon on Sunday, the match itself was also rather entertaining. Atletico of course came into this one sitting 5 points ahead of city rivals Real, and only 3 behind league leaders Barcelona.
Atleti, therefore, had some not entirely misplaced confidence coming into this match, the one slight doubt being the (for his standards) slightly patchy form of Falcao, their star Colombian striker. Sevilla were likely to provide a stern test, with the home side’s record against their Andlusian opponents being sketchy over the last few years.
To the match itself, and the opening 19 minutes were largely taken up by sparring, with neither side seemingly willing or able to take the initiative. Sevilla’s game-plan from the start seemed to have been based on getting as many men as possible as tight as possible on Falcao and stop the creative flow, and for a time this worked perfectly. The game changed rather dramatically on 19 minutes, however when Falcao and then Koke attempted to waltz fairly clumsily through the Sevilla penalty box. Federico Fazio took down the young Spaniard and was shown a straight red card for his troubles. Falcao cooly dispatched the penalty high into the back of Andres Palop’s net to give Los Colchoneros the lead and end his mini-drought of three whole games without a goal.
Sevilla then proceeded to stick to their original plan until the 40th minute, when Atletico doubled their lead. A cracking ball out of defence from Diego Godin was beautifully controlled by Falcao, who had found some space in the middle of the park following a Sevilla set piece. He chested and turned in one movement, and after running swiftly through the makeshift away defence very unselfishly slid the ball through to Arda Turan, who slipped the ball under Palop via a Spahic deflection into the net.
Four minutes later and the game was as good as over as the Rojiblancos notched a third. Tireless running from Diego Costa, harrying the Sevilla left back and then bolting down the right, found the Brazilian in a good crossing position. He picked out the onrushing Koke perfectly, the young midfielder knocking it home at the back post for 3-0.
Onto the second half , and it was a little bit of a non-event in football terms. Diego Costa wasted a couple of good goalscoring opportunities through ropey decision making on the hour mark, firstly taking it on himself when he should have played in Falcao (he did hit the bar from this chance but only via a bizarre deflection), and then dithering a bit at the near post when again he had the should have given the Colombian a goalscoring opportunity.
After Costa’s apparent wastefulness, the match again entered a “sparring” phase, with neither side expending a great deal of energy, and a number of substitutions served to break up the game further. The last 10 minutes or so, however, provided a further slice of tasty action. On 79 minutes, unused substitute Antonio Luna was shown a red card, presumably for naughty language directed at the slightly harrassed referee. His scarlet-coloured card came out again a few minutes later, this time following a second yellow for Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic who had probably been Sevilla’s most effective player on the night.
There was still time for a fourth goal, and it came two minutes into stoppage time. A speculative effort from the edge of the area by the excellent Atleti left-back Felipe Luis was spilled by Palop; Turan found himself some space to cut the ball back to Miranda who couldn’t miss. 4-0 to Atletico, and thoroughly deserved it was too.
The final whistle sounded an excellent result for Atletico, and a real fillip for manager Diego Simeone ahead of their trip to Real Madrid for “El Derbi” this weekend. In all, Atletico put in a fantastic performance,and deservedly go into Saturday night’s match 8 points ahead of their city rivals. Real might not have it their own way if Atleti play like they did on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid 4-0 Sevilla (Falcao (pen), Spahic (OG), Koke, Miranda)