Atletico Madrid 0 Celta Vigo 0: Simeone's side draw a blank against brilliant Blanco

By Sports Desk September 21, 2019

Atletico Madrid failed to win for a third successive game in all competitions as an inspired performance from Ruben Blanco secured Celta Vigo an unexpected 0-0 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Simeone's side saw their 100 per cent LaLiga record come to an emphatic end against Real Sociedad last weekend, while they rallied on Wednesday to secure a 2-2 Champions League draw with Juventus.

However, their efforts in clawing back a two-goal deficit against the Serie A champions appeared to have taken a toll judging by their performance against Celta, with a sluggish Atletico failing to score at home in league action for the first time since May 2018.

Hector Herrera was rewarded for his equaliser off the bench in midweek with a first LaLiga start, while Simeone also selected Angel Correa in an attack-minded starting XI.

Yet for all their exerted efforts going forward, Atletico were unable to find a way to beat the outstanding Blanco.

He kept the home team at bay with a trio of fine saves in the first half, starting with an acrobatic effort to turn away Felipe's header from Kieran Trippier's inswinging free-kick.

The visiting goalkeeper also tipped over a rising long-range drive from Renan Lodi, with Blanco then denying Joao Felix's on-target prod from the resulting corner.

Koke tested the 24-year-old reflexes again from distance early in a second half where Atletico became increasingly frustrated with each passing minute.

Lodi's decision to go for goal from a tight angle rather than cross for the waiting Alvaro Morata summed up a below-par performance, while they were grateful substitute Pione Sisto failed to do better with a back-post opportunity in the closing minutes of a quickly forgettable encounter.

 

What does it mean? Sluggish Atleti come up short

After two tough fixtures, it is perhaps understandable Atleti were a little flat, despite the best efforts of a raucous home crowd to inspire their team.

Worryingly for Simeone, they have now managed just five goals in as many LaLiga outings in 2019-20, despite having 20 attempts on Saturday.

Blanco makes a point for Celta

The away team were resilient in defence but still relied on their goalkeeper to pick up a point on their travels. Blanco made five saves in total, the best of them his early denial of Felipe's close-range header.

Joao Felix fails to fire before departure

The Portugal international has still managed just the one goal for the Spanish club since his big-money arrival from Benfica. As was also the case against La Real, the teenager was withdrawn when his side were searching for a way to find a breakthrough in attack.

What's next?

With a midweek round of fixtures in Spain, Atletico Madrid travel to Real Mallorca on Wednesday. Celta, meanwhile, are in action the following day, as they host Espanyol.

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    Diego Simeone accused Atletico Madrid of effectively conceding the first half in their 2-0 loss to Eibar on Saturday.

    Atleti suffered only their third LaLiga defeat of the season at Ipurua, Esteban Burgos scoring after just 10 minutes before Edu Exposito made the points safe heading into second-half injury time.

    It was the first time Atleti had lost a competitive game against Eibar since a meeting in the second tier in 2001, and it leaves them eight points behind league leaders Real Madrid.

    Simeone felt they were punished for a slow start to the game, a habit that gave him great concern in the autumn and one he hopes does not continue in 2020.

    "We started badly. We didn't play in the first half. In the second, we were okay we played a good game, with more chances for danger," he told Movistar.

    "We lost a half. Back in October, we were losing halves and we've gone back to doing that. It's my responsibility.

    "It's a very difficult pitch. We've won here 1-0 or 2-1. Today was a similar game. They take advantage of our inattentiveness in the first half and we could have scored in the second.

    "We didn't control the game, nor was there any great dominance of the opposition, but we didn't play. They played as ever, with intensity, really clear ideas – the concepts a team needs. I congratulate them."

    Saul Niguez, who played at left-back, also admitted concern about the way Atleti too often start matches slowly.

    "We struggled a lot at the start. They created three chances and got the goal from the third," he said.

    "There have been many times this season when we haven't started games well.

    "I think the end of the first half and the beginning of the second were good, but they defended well. We didn't manage to create clear chances despite getting to the byline several times.

    "After the good run we were on, it's a tough blow."

  • Eibar 2-0 Atletico Madrid: Simeone's sluggish side slip up in title race Eibar 2-0 Atletico Madrid: Simeone's sluggish side slip up in title race

    Atletico Madrid suffered only their third LaLiga defeat of the season on Saturday as Esteban Burgos and Edu Exposito sealed a 2-0 win for Eibar.

    Having lost the Supercopa de Espana final to Real Madrid on penalties six days ago, Diego Simeone's side looked sluggish and short of inspiration in the heavy rain at Ipurua.

    Burgos struck just 10 minutes into the contest to give Eibar a deserved lead, and Jose Luis Mendilibar's side held onto their advantage with relative ease in the second half despite Atleti's control of possession.

    Exposito buried a precise strike in the 90th minute to give the hosts a 2-0 victory they fully deserved.

    Eibar's early pressure told 10 minutes in when Burgos tapped home following Sergi Enrich's header, the goal given after a VAR check saw the initial offside decision overturned.

    Joao Felix was denied by a good Marko Dmitrovic save, but only a crucial block from Santiago Arias denied Takashi Inui a second for Eibar.

    Atleti were certainly second best in the first half but Angel Correa missed two clear chances to equalise, the forward unable to connect cleanly with Vitolo's cross from barely six yards out and then failing to beat Dmitrovic after Vitolo's stumble.

    Simeone opted against any changes at the break and there was little difference to Atleti's level of creativity against an Eibar side happy to hold onto their advantage.

    Joao Felix worked hard to create inroads but to little effect, while Alvaro Morata saw a header comfortably saved, and the hosts secured only a second win in eight league games when Exposito arrowed a fine finish beyond Jan Oblak after a corner was cleared straight to his feet.

     

    What does it mean? Atleti in danger of being cast adrift in title race

    Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Sevilla earlier meant Atleti would have moved three points ahead of Julen Lopetegui's side, and back to within five of their city rivals, had they won.

    However, the nature of their display will give fans little belief they can keep pace with Madrid and Barca at the top of the table even though they have 18 games still to play.

    As for Eibar, they are now seven points above the drop zone.

    Dmitrovic dominant

    Although his four saves were relatively straightforward, Dmitrovic deserves credit for commanding his penalty area well. Atleti's rather hopeful crosses rarely looked likely to trouble him.

    No delight for Angel

    Atleti created few clear-cut openings but Correa spurned the best of them, managing only to meet Vitolo's good cross with his face rather than his head and then failing to find a finish when the ball fell kindly his way.

    What's next?

    Atleti head to Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey on Thursday before hosting Leganes in LaLiga on Sunday. Eibar face Badajoz in the cup, then travel to Celta Vigo.

  • Zidane insists VAR was right to rule out De Jong goal Zidane insists VAR was right to rule out De Jong goal

    Zinedine Zidane believes it was the right decision to rule out a Luuk de Jong goal in Real Madrid's 2-1 victory over Sevilla on Saturday.

    Madrid moved top of LaLiga as two goals from Casemiro secured all three points at the Santiago Bernabeu, despite De Jong having briefly made it 1-1 in the second half.

    The striker thought he had given Sevilla the lead half an hour in, but his header was disallowed following a VAR check, with referee Juan Martinez Munuera instead penalising Nemanja Gudelj for blocking Eder Militao in the build-up.

    Sevilla head coach Julen Lopetegui was aghast at the decision and director of football Monchi claimed he would have taken the team off the pitch had they seen a goal disallowed for a second time when VAR was used to check a possible handball by Munir El Haddadi.

    Zidane, though, sees little reason to feel the decisions changed the game.

    "What I can say is that I saw the incident and it's a block, there's a foul, the referee saw it on VAR, and he gave the foul," the Madrid boss told reporters.

    "For the second, there's a hand, he doesn't give it. I can't explain anything, and I never get into evaluating these things. It's for the referee to decide.

    "Sometimes these things go against you and sometimes in your favour. It's a difficult job. It's for them to decide.

    "For me, there's a block, it's a foul and it's really normal."

    When asked about Monchi's comments, Zidane replied: "I don't think the referee was that decisive. He did what he had to do.

    "There's a hand for their goal, but that wasn't given. What can I say? I'm not going to get into it.

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    "What he said is his responsibility. It's not for me to say anything. In the end, it's the referee who decides.

    "What he said seems a little strong to me, but I'm not going to prevent the Sevilla sporting director from speaking."

    Zidane went on to praise the performance of Casemiro, who proved Madrid's unlikely hero by scoring twice in the same game for the first time in his career with the club.

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