Madrid Champions League Derby: Man and Woman in Blazers
By now you know that Atletico Madrid are out of the Champions League race, having lost to Real Madrid on Wednesday in a match that both sides held to no goals until that fateful bit of business from Chicharito (Javier Hernández).
The hearts of Atleti fans sunk when Arda Turan was sent off after a second yellow.
The match was the biggest of the season for Atletico, with Simeone stating several times that the goal this year was a Champions League victory.
Fellow featured writer here at Football.com Giovanni Franco and I commiserated on Twitter during the match. Here are our impressions, thoughts, and moans.
Gio: Recovering after all that?
Sierra: It’ll take me a while. The depths of my disappointment haven't yet been realized. I just really, really thought we would go through. I did not expect this.
Gio: Same here. I was expecting a bit more tenacity from Atleti, though.
Sierra: What do we think were the problems for Atleti? Not nearly enough pressure; they were hanging back waiting.
Gio: I agree, yes. It seemed Simeone was hesitant to sub Arda Turan off early. I thought Arda was coming off for Raul Garcia originally.
Sierra: Do you think it would have made a difference if Fernando Torres had come on instead of Raul Garcia?
Gio: Not really.
Sierra: I didn’t think Arda's red card sunk Atleti. I thought there was every chance we could still score. It was a huge blow, to be sure, but I thought we could sneak one in. This was the most important match of the season!
Gio: I don’t think the red killed us entirely, but it made the job the more challenging. I originally thought Turan was more the correct sub for Garcia since he was already on a yellow.
Sierra: This match was interesting in that it wasn't nearly as passionate as last week or prior meets. Meaning, a lot less blood and fights. Although Sergio Ramos certainly tried.
Gio: Yeah, minus the fact the ref last week [in the first leg] was incompetent.
Sierra: Right, there was that.
Gio: What qualified him to referee that match?
Sierra: He was a horror.
Gio: Carvajal should have seen red in the first leg. It reminded me big time of the Yugoslavian conflict. Croat standing in front of a Serb official covered in blood, while the Turk pleads his case.
Sierra: I still find it outrageous how Mandzukic was treated in that first leg. If a Real Madrid player had been that bloody and that beaten, there would have been all kinds of outrage.
Gio: I agree completely about European bias.
Sierra: Simeone has said repeatedly that this season was all about the Champions League. Everyone (him, the team) is being positive after the match, tweeting things about going on and being proud, but this has got to be such a blow. We have nothing this season now except to maintain third place.
Gio: This season has deflated in front of us, and perhaps the fact we kind of reinforced our winning side with new additions after losing players. Alessio Cerci never amounted to what we wanted, Torres although back home is still Fernando.
Sierra: I count Torres a far, far better deal than that rotten-apple Cerci. What a lump he was! Torres was a smart move for Atleti financially and for the brand. I like Mandzukic a lot, although I’d like to see more action from him, chances created instead of just waiting for them. I would actually see Torres start more, but I'd like to see Mandzukic stay (through the summer).
Gio: I’d like Mandzukic to stay, I want something definitive to be done with Cani. I would also look to Germany at the possibility of stealing de Bryune from Wolfsburg.
Sierra: So in today's match: could have been more progressive from Atleti, the red card wounded us, but (obviously) the late goal and the Raul Garcia sub sunk us. And we didn't mention the star of Atleti today: Jan Oblak in goal.
Gio: Yeah, he was the man of the match, but that speaks for itself.
Sierra: He was consistently spectacular. The guy has found his groove and now we see why he won the Portuguese league's Best Goalkeeper of the Year last season while with Benfica.
Gio: Do you prefer Oblak over Moya?
Sierra: You know, it's a funny thing. I am a staunch Moya supporter. In Moya, I see quality, wisdom, reliability. Early on in the season, he was almost statistically on par with Courtois. However, Oblak, since Moya's injury, has been a sensation. He has been springy, fast, and where we needed him. I really, really like him and I'm so glad he has gotten the chance to shine.
So now, I'm not sure I prefer Moya. I guess I'd like to see Oblak continue and finish the season.
Gio: Interesting. I'm on the fence for both! What happened to Atleti when we won 4-0? Fatigue. The boys are being overused, I feel.
Sierra: It's the "big game" syndrome. Like Koke and Arda, they play most matches.
Gio: Yeah, I feel some of our youth has let us down in some league games in which we had to play regulars such as Arda and Koke. That or lack of depth. I still miss Courtois.
Sierra: Here's how I feel about Courtois: he was never ours to begin with. While, yes, he was awesome, we always knew he'd have to go.
Gio: How I feel about Courtois: the hot girl you landed but know is going to leave, because you’re a rebound. You don't really want to admit she's going to leave. But she does…
Sierra: But that hot girl was married to Chelsea.
Gio: When you hear constantly "why do you support a bunch of losers?" while growing up....It's beautiful to keep believing.
Sierra: I see the reasoning with subbing Raul Garcia for Griezmann in the match: out with the gazelle, in with the battering ram.
Gio: The gazelle was getting around people, though. I thought more of card management.
Sierra: Was he, though? I saw him running around a lot and not getting the ball.
Gio: And I was thinking of 120 minutes, too.
Sierra: Me, too. I honestly thought this would go to that point.
Gio: [regarding Griezmann] Still kept formation well, was very disciplined with keeping shape and holding it.
Gio: And if you want to press high on occasion, Griezmann is your boo. [note: Gio actually meant to type “boy” here, but Sierra thinks calling Griezmann Gio’s boo is far more amusing.]
Sierra: Arda should have been taken out for Torres, maybe. Or Boo.
Gio: LOL! Boo that he went off!
Sierra: Poor Arda. He was so upset [after his red card]. That guy puts everything he is into the match and the team.
Gio: He puts his heart and soul into his game.
Sierra: MOM-- Arda! So you would not have subbed Raul for Griezmann, what other sub would you have made?
Gio: I would have subbed Turan for Garcia after the first yellow. Mainly on the double yellow threat
Sierra: Because let’s face it, Arda IS a red card, shoe-throwing threat.
Gio: And waited until 107 to make the third sub. 98-105 Torres for either Manzdukic or Griezmann.
Sierra: I wonder if Griezmann would have stepped it up after the Chicharito goal and taken revenge. Mandzukic...not a huge play creator.
Gio: Not in this match, he wasn't.
Sierra: I saw someone on twitter say that “all the football was played yesterday.” I disagreed. Today’s matches were more challenging when both sides defended so tightly. But the person said, “Making it look simple is the hardest thing to do.” Okay, yeah, in theory, but I also thought two tough, good teams holding each other was difficult. Both Madrid sides played hard. What’s your take on that, Gio?
Overall, Atleti did not create any chances over either leg with Real, and it just seems like such a waste—a waste, that is, for revenge for last year, which I wanted.
Gio: I find it that when people comment in a way as such, they find the only enjoyment coming in the means of goals. They lack the ability of realizing the tough play that occurs in games that are cagey and close such as the Madrid Derby we just witnessed. I always ask these particular people if they have ever played the game before. I find that many people have different opinions of the game after they play it over just watching it.
We all wanted revenge for last year’s final; we all felt that if we were destined to lose then we all agreed we did not deserve to lose in the way we did. Fatigue and depth here was the issue last season we could depend on Diego Ribas, Adrian Lopez, and David Villa to batter in a goal or two to get us by. Today it’s not the same, and that will translate in fatigue in the squad.