LA LIGA | ATLÉTICO 3-0 ALMERÍA
Griezmann and Mandzukic cling on to the league
The Frenchman enjoyed a superb game and scored two goals, while the Croatian scored a contrversial penalty. Atleti close on Barça and refuse to give in.
There are five things that are certain in life: water is wet, warm beer is not beer, babies are weapons of mass destruction, your girl is smarter than you are and Atleti never fail when they sign strikers. Diego Costa left and the Atleti fans were in somewhat of a depression. Costa had 25 goals at this point last season in all competitions. It was outrageous and it set the bar high. But after Almería, both Mandzukic and Griezmann showed they have accepted the challenge. The Croatian now has 20 goals, 12 in the league, and the Frenchman, with another brace, has 14 in the league and 17 in total. Neither will likely reach the 36 Costa scored but the pair are forming a lethal partnership in attack. Atleti may be trailing but they are still in the title racer
The match itself lasted half an hour. Atlético took to the pitch with an urgency that showed they wanted to quickly rid the bad feeling of last weekend’s loss at Balaídos. The presence of Arda back on the pitch helped. After just two minutes Griezmann surged into the box and Almería were well aware that they had travelled to Winterfell in the full wave of cold. There was no way out of there alive.
And if those of José Ignacio Martínez did not have enough problems, 12 minutes in Mateu had a crazy moment when he awarded a controversial penalty. Godín went to try and connect to a cross from Gabi and both Maura and Hemed rose to battle for the ball. Godín’s headmask brushed the hand of the latter. It was not much, but it ended up being a lot. Mateu whistled for the penalty and Mndzukic made no mistake from the spot.
To stop Almería complaining or fighting back, Griezmann decided to settle the contest in ten minutes. After 20 minutes, Mandzukic produced a delicate pass for his strike partner, who finished with his usual efficiency. He feinted slightly to the right and finished to the left. Almería goalkeeper Julian could only watch on as the ball tricked into the back of the net.
It was 3-0 in the 29thminute. Arda sent a ball to the far post, where Mandzukic headed back towards the middle. From there, Griezmann pay thanks to another assist from the Croatian by taking the ball down and scoring with a quick swing of the leg. Almería still had an hour to face but they at least faced it in proud fashion, preventing any further damage and maintaining some of the optimism with which they arrived at the Calderón.
Atleti let the rest of the time pass without exerting too much more energy. They had one eye on the grand fixture list that lies in wait: Leverkusen, Sevilla and Valencia. Simeone rested Mandzukic and Griezmann by bringing them off early while Godín and Miranda took care of things at the back to avoid any surprises. Mateu still had time to send Siqueira off controversially. It was a comfortable victory. The champions will not surrended. Never.