Both Gregorio Manzano and Jose Luis Mendilibar expressed their disappointment after Atletico Madrid’s 0-0 draw with Osasuna, in the League’s new midday kick-off time.
Spain have introduced a Sunday lunch-time kick-off slot for the 2011-12 in a move suggested by many to be a way of targeting the Asian television audience, and is reflective of similar scheduling seen in England and Italy.
Atletico Madrid welcomed Osasuna to the capital for the Spanish League’s first Sunday midday kick-off, in a game both Coaches were disappointed not to take more than a point from.
Manzano responded to questions on the team missing new signing Radamel Falcao in attack by insisting having played a Europa League qualifier in midweek was not followed up with the correct adjustment in time for the noon game, and that his players were physically unprepared, more than missing a central point in attack.
The home side largely dominated proceedings, with Eduardo Salvio clipping the edge of the post towards the end of the first half and Jose Antonio Reyes seeing a more direct shot firmly rebound from the foot of the post in the second half.
However, in a game that saw an amazing 40 shots in total, and Atleti strike 27 of those reflective of a 58% ball possession, Mendilibar still left the Calderon disappointed that his Pamplona side could not steal the victory. The 50-year-old tactician conceded the home side’s dominance but also claimed he was surprised that his own players displayed a ‘lack of freshness’ that was otherwise expected of them.
Mendilibar interestingly agreed with Manzano that the heat played its part in the result, but did not link this to the time of the kick-off, pointing out that teams often train at 11 or 12 in the day.
Interestingly, both Coaches also fielded questions on their goalkeeping selections. Belgian youngster Thibaut Courtois was given his debut for Atleti in a surprising decision, one that Manzano claimed was to ‘introduce’ him to the fans and the stadium, with the Chelsea-owned ‘keeper responding with a generally impressive peformance that saw him called upon on more than one occasion.
Meanwhile, interest also surrounds who Mendilibar will use as No 1 for Osasuna this season, with Asier Riesgo receiving the initial nod, but then replaced on 45 minutes by Andres Fernandez having picked up an injury. The Coach declared his satisfaction at both goalkeepers’ performances – both made key saves – and included Ricardo Lopez too when suggesting the team have three very good shot-stoppers for the coming season.