Well back with a win at least. Atletico had travelled to Galicia without a win in in almost a month but Kevin Gameiro pounced on a loose ball to put Atletico ahead against the run of play in the first half, and although Celta Vigo had more than their fair share of the ball, the match ended in a 1-0 victory for Atleti.
Gameiro’s first goal of the season came in a second successive start, which is welcome news before Wednesday’s trip to third-tier Elche for a Copa del Rey last-32 first leg. Listeners of our SSN pod would have heard me praise Koke, Niguez and Carrasco regularly as three of La liga’s less known talents. Only Saul Niguez made the trip due to a hamstring and knee injury for Koke and Carraso respectively, so you have to give the Argentinian credit for adjusting his tactics accordingly.
Simeone, now in his sixth full season in charge of Atletico having signed a deal over the summer that commits him to the club until 2020, cut a relieved figure in the post-match press conference- “It is an important win, it was needed. Between the international break, the games against Leganes, Barcelona and Qarabag [in the Champions League], it was a long wait for a win.”
The bigger picture is that the club’s chances of making it to the knockout stages of the Champions League are currently hanging by a thread. Vitolo and Diego Costa arrive in January, which can’t come quick enough for Simeone. In the meantime there have been calls for a youngster Keidi Bare who impressed in preseason to be given his chance. Luciano Vietto is another omission in recent match day squads that have left the Atletico faithful puzzled.
However, Simeone remains unruffled “It would really be worrying if we had stopped being ourselves. The year we won La Liga, we lost in Almeria, who were relegated. I did not get carried away when we won in Bilbao, and I did not get too down when we drew in Baku. We must find some stability. We will find the right path.”
The right path is anything but an embarrassment this Wednesday.