It’s been three games since Atleti played Luis’s LaLiga, that of the last ten days, since when there were still fourteen left, the ones that decide whether to be or not to be. And to be is to be. In the next Champions, economic foundation, foundation of everything. Everything happened tonight at the Villamarín. When the match started, Barça took their place in the table, third, to Betis. When it finished, Atleti was also ahead. It was minute 2 and it was already going over Pellegrini’s men. Four touches were enough to give him the first punch.
Third ball of the match. Oblak takes it out of the door, long, Vrsajko prolongs it, Correa lowers it to the floor and sends it to João while Víctor Ruiz kicks into the air: the Portuguese alone, alone, finishes off an empty goal. Goal. The clock had not reached ten and Pellegrini had to chew another stone: without Channels, without sides, with the youth squad Paul by surprise in his eleven and seeing how another of his raised his arms asking for the change. Saved. And it could have been worse if the referee had penalized a slap by Sabaly to snatch the ball from João. It was clear, very clear, but the thing about the hands in the area is already a hieroglyph that only the referees understand. Or not that. Neither called the VAR. The party came from buttocks for all.
For a while the game was stopped although the ball continued to move from one side to the other, without much depth or intention. But the game at that time was just accidents, casualties. It was Cholo’s turn, who in seven minutes lost two men: Vrsaljko fell face down on the grass after an aerial duel with Fekir, Carrasco replaced him. Correa plummeted after a kick from Ruibal, he had to enter Grizi. Another game was already before half an hour. Atleti was looking to settle down, find itself after the changes. He lived comfortably sheltered, without suffering. Betis had the ball but without play between the lines, without worrying.
Atleti was able to extend the advantage in a three-on-one race and that one, Bravo. But the last pass, from Carrasco to João, was too long and Lodi didn’t make it either. Sabaly messed up. And Atleti went out. Actually they were already a drama every time De Paul touched a ball. Soft, horrible. Only Cuadra Fernández had the worst afternoon, and that is saying something. Meanwhile, Betis grew and grew around Paul.
He warned three times before that goal in the last minute of the five added in the first half. First with that shot half a meter from Paul that Giménez saved on the line. Then with two saves from Oblak, Carvalho with his leg and Borja Iglesias with a popcorn. The fourth was the charm: Herrera gave him a ball in the front. Tello’s left-footed shot, 1-1. Pellegrini went to the booth with an unappealable smile. Like his team.
The ones that had given back color to Cholo no longer worked for him. Because they were the same, the eleven from three games ago. Only two casualties: Savic’s and Kondogbia’s. But, after the break, they only held Oblak’s gloves. An Oblak who raised them as a red light against Tello and before an Olympic goal attempt by Joaquín. Felipe answered by sending a ball to the woodwork and then the one that finished was Betis. After the break Lemar had entered but the change was not that but De Paul. The good De Paul and not the previous one, the one with subtractions.
The blow to Pellegrini was struck again first by João Félix. It was the end of a counterattack that De Paul started and Llorente continued on the bike, delving into that weak point of Betis: the lack of a left back, Ruibal playing Guardado from 11′. The Portuguese looked for the hat-trick, in wonderAtleti launched againstbut a great goal was taken off the scoreboard by a previous foul by Grizi and another was stopped by Bravo. That Bravo who could also stop before Grizi but not before Lemar. 1-3. Atleti cramped, stiff, with a full infirmary, but with LaLiga converted for three games into another path for the Germans. Go Go. As Simeone says in the Champions League.
Tello (10′, Saved), carrasco (20′, Vrsaljko), Griezmann (26′, Belt), Lemar (45′, Renan Augustus), Guido Rodriguez (57′, Paul Akouokou), Juanmi (65′, Joaquin), willian joseph (65′, Borja Iglesias), Luis Suarez (82′, Joao Felix), Xavier Serrano (82′, DePaul)
0-1, 1′: joao felix1-1, 49′: Tello1-2, 60′: joao felix1-3, 79′: Lemar
Referee: Guillermo Cuadra Fernandez
VAR Referee: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva
Borja Iglesias (22′, Yellow) Hector Herrera (33′, Yellow) paul akookou (39′, Yellow) Bartra (49′, Yellow) carrasco (62′, Yellow) Tello (70′, Yellow) Mark Llorente (86′, Yellow) Aitor Ruibal (86′, Yellow