Club Focus: Atletico Madrid – Weakened Atletico overcome Getafe

Atletico Madrid came out on top over local rivals Getafe to move into fifth place and four points behind their other city rivals Real Madrid in La Liga. The victory was dedicated to former player Juan Carlos Arteche, who passed away earlier in the week.

Atletico were hoping to improve on their last game which saw them go down 2-0 to fellow European hopefuls Sevilla. Quique Sanchez Flores was without the injured Kun Aguero and decided to rest several first team players including Diego Forlan following the striker’s midweek exploits with Uruguay.

The whole stadium held a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for former defender Arteche before the game. The first half was largely dominated by the visitors who came close on two occasions but failed to capitalise on their good start. Against the run of play, Los Rojiblancos took the lead in the 37th minute when Simao fired in a marvellous free-kick to open the scoring. The 30-year-old Portuguese midfielder has been in fine form this season displaying great energy up and down the wing.

The second half failed to live up to expectation and became a very scrappy affair with little quality shown from either side and chances few and far between. Jose Antonio Reyes’ shot which skimmed Getafe keeper Jorge Cordina’s left post was a rare glimpse of excitement. Diego Costa made sure of the points in the 73rd minute with a strike from just outside the box after an incisive run from Juan Valera. After the game Quique Flores acknowledged Getafe’s performance but thought his side did enough to get the three points.

Quique Flores can take a lot of positives from this result, without his first choice strike force Forlan and Aguero, who scored 48 goals between them last season, Atletico looked dangerous going forward and always looked like scoring and were good value for their win. Since taking charge a year ago Flores has changed the fortunes of Atletico, turning them from relegation candidates into Europa Cup winners, Copa Del Rey finalists and finishing in the top half of La Liga.

Danish Legend Michael Laudrup had been President Enrique Cerezo’s first choice to replace former Coach Abel Resino. After failing to sign the now Mallorca boss, Quique Flores was appointed and they have not looked back since. Flores had previously been in charge of Valencia following Rafa Benitez’s departure to Liverpool, but failed to follow on the success of his predecessor and was sacked after two years in charge. He went on to manage Portuguese side Benfica for one season before returning to La Liga with Atletico Madrid where he has won over the supporters and the club President.

During the summer Flores steadied the ship with the signing of Uruguayan defender Diego Godin from Villarreal to partner Spanish Under-21 international Alvaro Dominguez. This looks to have been an astute signing for Los Rojiblancos with the pair showing several solid defensive performances so far this season.

Following the departure of attacking midfielder Jose Jurado to German side Schalke in the summer Atletico have been in the market for a replacement. Reports in the Dutch media suggest that the PSV winger Ibraham Afellay is top of Quique Flores’ list and talks are already in progress. Afellay would be an ideal replacement for Jurado on the left hand side of midfield. The Dutchman has impressed recently with the national side and would give Flores another option going forward.

Atletico will now turn their attention to the Europa Cup clash with Rosenberg on Thursday. The holders are expected to welcome back striker Diego Forlan for the game, but it looks as though they will be without Argentine Kun Aguero who is still suffering with a knee injury he picked up against Atletico Bilbao last month. Madrid’s next league game will be next Sunday against high flying Villarreal, who go into the game in second place after a 2-2 draw with Hercules on Monday night.

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