Atletico Pass Another Tough Test...

Atletico faced by far the toughest test of La Liga's leading trio at the weekend, but passed their trip to San Mames with flying colours. It looks like there really is no stopping them...

Last Updated: 01/04/14 at 08:16 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Arsenal Have Done The Best Business In La Liga


With last season's entire top seven likely to import from Spain this summer, Tim Stannard picks out the good business from the less so. Let's hope he wears a tin hat...

Why Faltering Spain Need To Look North...


The previous Spanish model was born and bred in Barcelona, but a new-look side could have its roots in Atletic Bilbao, with Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara et al...

All Articles

There is a fairly decent chance the ever-protesting Barcelona and Real Madrid supporters might have something to say in the matter, but it really does feel fitting that Atlético Madrid should be handed the league title right now, and everyone just give up on the final seven matches of the Spanish league season. Whilst this somewhat drastic action is not exactly in the realms of fair competition, the effort put in and results pulled out by the Rojiblancos deserve a giant, shiny trophy.

Saturday's away trip to San Mamés to take on fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao was another one of those matches that had most Primera pundits forecasting - this column included - that reality would bite for Diego Simeone's side. Once again, though, an inspired Atlético proved everyone utterly wrong after producing a tremendous 2-1 win, despite going 1-0 behind to Athletic early on in the game.

It was the relentless Diego Costa who hauled his team back into the match, with an equalising effort on the way to a victory that keeps Atletico top of the table. "We just couldn't stop him," admitted Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde, as Costa chalked up his 25th La Liga goal of the campaign - just three fewer than Cristiano Ronaldo.

As Simeone admitted, there is no rest for the wicked in the title race, with Atlético's players now being called into battle once again in the small matter of a Champions League double-header against Barcelona. "We'll get up, put on our tracksuits, eat and sleep," announced the Argentinean coach on his team's tunnel vision ahead of the tie.

The big question is what impact the Champions League games will have on Atleti's energy levels. It is tempting to suggest quite a lot, but Atlético has proved time and time again that this narrative is tosh. The Camp Nou clash is on Tuesday night, followed by a home game against a sometimes wobbly Villarreal, so there is nothing to suggest that 90 minutes of European fun booting Barca about for the fourth time this year will be any major hurdle.

Barcelona also pulled off a hard-fought away result at the weekend when they were originally tipped to struggle. Tata Martino's side were involved in the Catalan derby against Espanyol and had to dig in and hope for some kind of scrap of fortune. That came after 77 minutes, when the referee spotted a handball from Javi López in an aerial challenge from Neymar. There was controversy, of course, as it looked like the ball initially struck Neymar's arm. "If we win, it's because of the referees, if we lose it is an end of a cycle," sighed Dani Alves after the game.

The third team in the title-chasing trio, Real Madrid, had by far the easiest of challenge in a home game against Rayo Vallecano, a side that adores taking the initiative against opponents. It is no real surprise that Madrid prevailed 5-0 using the counter-attacking speed of Ronaldo and Bale to full effect, with the Welshman coming up with a brace to bring his tally to 12. Tellingly though, none of those goals are against the three other members of La Liga's top four, an indication that Bale's first season with Madrid still leaves plenty to be desired.

Carlo Ancelotti's team are taking on Borussia Dortmund in their own Champions League double header, an outfit perceived to be considerably weaker than last year's version which ran Madrid ragged in the semi-finals.

Real Madrid are currently three points off Atlético - four if you factor in an inferior head-to-head record - and will be desperately hoping that their title rivals slugging it out over two Champions League games will allow some kind of slip-up. However, Atlético have proven again and again and again that there really is no stopping them. Whatever it is the Rojiblancos are having for breakfast after putting on their tracksuits every morning, this column could do with a dose.

Tim Stannard

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments


e made his power play to try and get Sheikhy to raise his wages or trade him to PSG. PSG were probably not interested and he is stuck with no cake and no vacation. @Jay_D> Surely you jest about FFP being real, right? All Platini is doing is making billionaries pay measly fines, so he and his cronies can get rich. If a fool can pay 50 mil for David Luiz, he will happily pay some fine to UEFA. FFP has failed as for it to succeed UEFA had to take it...

Toure: I am staying with City


uess we can expect Toure's explanation of his behaviour around the same time Pete Townshend publishes his book then.

Toure: I am staying with City


amn you Yaya, don't scare me like that! I only ate the icing. I didn't eat the soft and scrumptious middle - I will buy you another cake!

Toure: I am staying with City

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Transfer News: Hibernian capture young midfielder Scott Allan from West Brom

Hibernian have signed former Scotland Under-21 international Scott Allan from West Brom.

Transfer news: Frank Lampard signs for New York City FC

England midfielder Frank Lampard has confirmed he will join the MLS team New York City FC on a two-year contract.

Transfer news: Adem Ljajic wants to stay at Roma

Serbia international Adem Ljajic has reiterated his desire to stay at Roma and fight for a regular starting berth.

Mail Box

Pre-Season Obviously Isn't Meaningless

The debate over the importance of pre-season continues, including a league table from last season for stats fans. Plus travelling to watch your team and Blackpool...

Definitely Not Getting Giddy Over A Friendly Win

We have some conclusions from Louis van Gaal's perfect start, plus a dismissal of fantasy football, worries about La Liga's greediness and thoughts on Real with Ham-ez...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property