Connect with us

Atletico Madrid

‘Ronaldo remains remarkable’ – Three things we learnt from Real Madrid 3-0 Atletico Madrid



Meeting for the fourth consecutive season in Europe’s top competition, the Spanish capital’s two biggest clubs clashed at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg of this year’s semi-final.

Two of those previous encounters were in the final of the Champions League, with Real Madrid coming out on top, once in extra-time and again on penalties to deny their rivals a first triumph in the competition, whilst racking up their 10th and 11th titles. 2015’s quarter-final had the same result, with two matches providing just a single goal as Los Blancos edged the contest once more.

This tie provided another chance for Diego Simeone’s Atletico to avenge those narrow defeats, with a place in the final against Juventus or Monaco available.

Here are three things The Boot Room learnt from the latest Madrid derby:

Immense Isco

Isco took his place in Real Madrid’s starting XI in place of Gareth Bale who has been unavailable since sustaining an injury in last month’s El Classico.

Upon the announcement of the teams, it looked likely that Isco would play in the front three ahead of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric who tend to play deeper. Although the 25-year-old usually plays more centrally, the set-up gave him freedom to come inside more often than Bale may have done.

Embed from Getty Images

Throughout the first half, in which Real asserted their dominance and were unlucky to score just once. Isco proved pivotal in controlling the game and upkeeping the furious tempo of Zinedine Zidane’s side. In the first 45 minutes, the midfielder attempted 42 passes with a 100% success rate, playing 18 of those forward and creating one chance.

By the time the Spaniard was substituted on 68 minutes he had completed 59 of 60 passes, having sent the ball in all directions, mostly from the middle and attacking thirds.

His removal from play was likely the result of his earlier booking and was no surprise after being fortunate to evade a second yellow for a foul on Koke just before his departure.

Ronaldo Remains Remarkable

Now more than ever regarded as second best behind Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo continues to provide a case for being number one by scoring in the biggest games.

Ronaldo’s three-goal haul means that he has scored 10 goals in 11 Champions League games this season, has scored successive hat-tricks in the competition (the other against Bayern Munich) and has two trebles against Atletico this campaign.

Embed from Getty Images

His overall European record is even better, 103 Champions League goals, (more than Atletico’s 100) more goals in the knockout stages than any player ever, and a remarkable 13 semi-final goals.

In this tie the Portuguese forward had just five shots on goal, one was blocked, another from an outrageous distance and three found the net. He also managed to complete 86% of his passes, created a chance and showed his ariel prowess by towering over Stefan Savic to head home the first goal.

At 32-years-old Ronaldo has changed his game, but is as prolific as ever when it matters most. He has almost single-handedly carried Real Madrid from the quarters to the Final in Cardiff, as they look to win the trophy for the third time in four years.

Tie Over?

Despite the second leg to come at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, this semi-final is all but finished. Atletico Madrid’s greatest strength throughout their period of success under Simeone has always been defending.

Embed from Getty Images

Some more attacking sides, as seen in Barcelona’s epic last-16 reversal against Paris Saint-Germain, would have a hope of overturning the deficit, but sadly for Los Rojiblancos, and any neutrals dreaming of another classic, they do not look capable of scoring that many goals.

At the weekend, Atleti recorded their best away win under Simeone, a 5-0 demolition of Las Palmas, showing that they can be rampant, but still remain way behind Real’s total of 92 league goals with 65. Even more daunting is the prospect of more goals to come. Zidane’s team typically score in every game they play, meaning that Atletico will realistically need at least five in reply, having failed to grab an away goal.

It was as an unfamiliar performance from a Simeone side, as even games against their main city rivals are usually close – six of the last seven have been drawn or decided by a one-goal margin. They uncharacteristically failed to clear on two occasions before conceding the opener and lacked impetus throughout proceedings.

Embed from Getty Images

Both of the away side’s starting strikers, and even Torres when he was introduced, struggled to get into the match, staying too high up the pitch as Kroos Modric and Isco set the tempo in midfield. Worryingly, they even failed to capitalise on space left by Real’s marauding full-backs, exerting too much effort into failed attempts at playing through the middle.

Even if the second leg sees a dramatically improved performance, there is practically zero chance that Atletico Madrid will progress to this year’s final. Perhaps that is preferable to recent years when they have come even closer to glory, but it will undoubtedly hurt that their fiercest rivals have once again crushed their hopes of success on club football’s greatest stage.

Featured image: All rights reserved by oimoko0114

Joe is a suffering Blackpool fan. Having banned himself from matches in protest at England's worst club owners; he now watches any other game, often writing about them here for The Boot Room.

Atletico Madrid

What is Diego Costa’s Chelsea legacy after three eventful years in the Premier League?

Rob Meech



Diego Costa

Diego Costa’s controversial Chelsea career is finally set to come to an end. According to The Guardian, the Blues have agreed to sell the striker back to his former club, Atletico Madrid, for £57 million, subject to agreeing personal terms and passing a medical. Costa scored 59 goals from 120 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea, winning the Premier League title on two occasions as well as the League Cup.

His uncompromising style won him few friends but there was no denying his influence and suitability to England’s top-flight. Costa’s relationship with Antonio Conte turned sour this summer when it emerged the Chelsea manager had told the Brazilian-born forward via text message that he was no longer in his plans. Costa pushed for a return to Atletico and was ostracised by Conte, who will no doubt be relieved this saga is now resolved.

What is Costa’s legacy at Chelsea?

Regardless of the negative reputation he had among the wider public, Costa was loved by the majority of Chelsea supporters and played a huge part in their domestic success during his spell at the club. Due to its competitiveness, the Premier League is notoriously difficult to win, so for the Blues to have done so twice in three years – under two different managers – is a remarkable feat. Costa’s goals were fundamental to this. Put simply, the Blues would not have been crowned champions without him. He netted 20 times in each of their title-winning campaigns and made life miserable for defenders.

Costa never strayed too far from controversy though and occasionally crossed the line of acceptable conduct. Infamously, he received a three-match ban in January 2015 for stamping. But the 28-year-old was always at his best when playing on the edge. Take that out of his game and he would definitely not be the same player. Jose Mourinho understood this compromise, but Conte found it harder to accommodate. With his high-intensity style, the Italian needed to know he could rely on each and every one of his players. Ultimately, he could not trust Costa to follow his instructions.

How will Chelsea fare without him?

Conte is a ruthless character and once he had made it clear that Costa’s days at Stamford Bridge were numbered, there was never a way back. The high-profile capture of Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid was confirmation, if it were needed, that their relationship was irreparable and Conte had moved on. The biggest compliment that can be paid to the Spaniard, though, is that Conte signed a replacement very much in his image. Costa had taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, and Morata has very similar attributes. He too, has started in blistering fashion and looks tailor-made for the English game.

After their opening-day blip against Burnley, Chelsea have rediscovered their best form and are unbeaten in four Premier League games. On that score, it doesn’t appear that they are missing Costa. No player is bigger than the club and Conte had obviously grown tired of the Spain international’s antics, however entertaining they were for us, the viewers. Financially, the Blues have made an enormous profit on Costa, having signed him for £32 million just over three years ago.

Can Costa rebuild his career at Atletico?

Costa’s public desire to rejoin the club at which he won the La Liga title in 2014, highlights the affiliation he has with the club. He is perfectly suited to Diego Simeone’s brand of football and he will relish linking up with Antoine Griezmann. Atletico of course, remain under a transfer embargo, which means Costa will not be eligible to play for them until January. But once he is, it will surprise nobody if he is back on the goalscoring trail straight away.

Continue Reading

Atletico Madrid

Could Atletico Madrid striker Nicolas Gaitan make a surprise move to Watford to pave the way for Diego Costa’s return?




This is certainly one of the more surprising stories to surface from transfer deadline day but the Hertfordshire Mercury claim that Watford have been offered Atletico Madrid striker Nicolas Gaitan.

It is understood that the Spanish side are looking to clear room for Diego Costa – who is edging closer to an Atletico return according to the Daily Mail – and as such are ready to off-load Gaitan.

The report continues to say that although the La Liga outfit would rather have an up-front loan fee paid in the region of €2 million (£1.8 million) they are happy to add an option to buy in the deal.

What could the Argentine international bring to Vicarage Road?

It’s fair to say that Watford fans didn’t expect this when they woke up this morning. Nicolas Gaitan has been one of the most consistent goal-scorers across Europe in the past seven seasons, bursting on to the scene at Benfica in 2010 after arriving from Argentine side Boca Juniors.

In a six-year spell, spanning over 250 appearances, the 29-year-old found the net 41 times in all competitions and played a massive part in Benfica winning three consecutive Primeira Liga titles.

Despite beginning his footballing career in Argentina as more of a left-sided midfielder he began to develop into a dangerous player further up the pitch in Portugal, often being utilised in the number ten role just behind the striker, but he could easily fit in wherever Watford boss Marco Silva sees fit.

To attract a team like Atletico Madrid you already know that there’s a little bit of flair to his play, comfortable when driving at a static back-four and using his speed and close ball-control for results.

His excellent sense of vision in and around the final third would be an incredibly underrated asset should he join too, and he could spark a very productive partnership indeed with new man Andre Gray.

And although he played second fiddle to Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torries for most of last season, scoring three times in just 11 starts in La Liga, there’s little doubt he’d impress at Watford.

The Boot Room’s Verdict (1/5)

The arrival of Gaitan really would send Watford supporters into dream land following the summer business done to date, but this is one of those deals that is dependent on something else happening.

And with Costa’s future well and truly in the air, and time ticking away, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough time remaining before the deadline to see both Chelsea and Watford complete their deals.

Gaitan to Watford
Reader Rating1 Vote1.85
Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
The arrival of Gaitan really would send Watford supporters into dream land following the summer business done to date, but this is one of those deals that is dependent on something else happening. And with Costa’s future well and truly in the air, and time ticking away, it doesn’t seem like there’s enough time remaining before the deadline to see both Chelsea and Watford complete their deals.
Continue Reading

Atletico Madrid

As Atletico close in on Diego Costa, will Chelsea’s Antonio Conte rue his decision?




All decisions have consequences, and football managers in particular live or die by the paths that they choose during the course of their job.

So, with the Mirror reporting that Atletico Madrid are closing in on a £30 million deal for Chelsea outcast and former Los Rojiblancos striker Diego Costa, Antonio Conte will be the latest manager to put himself on the line with a seemingly impulsive leadership decision.

After telling the controversial forward that he was no longer part of the club’s plans by text at the end of last season, one of the summer’s most unsavoury transfer sagas could well be coming to a close.

The question is whether Conte will rue his decision in a season in which Chelsea must compete on both domestic and continental fronts, or unify the squad by removing an occasionally unsettling influence from its midst?

Will Conte return home to Madrid?

The deal itself is an unusual one, as while all parties are motivated to complete the transfer there is no guarantee that Atletico will sign their man before the window closes.

Due to the breakdown of the relationship between player and manager and Costa’s decision to remain in his native Brazil until a deal is concluded, Chelsea are determined to drive a hard bargain and the club’s posturing has hindered talks.

Even with a £30 million compromise in the offing, this is a transfer that is likely to run and run until the final moments of the window.

Atletico’s transfer embargo has also complicated any potential deal, but as The Guardian confirmed in pre-season the club can officially agree terms with Costa if Chelsea accept their bid.

The player would then be eligible to represent the club when the embargo is lifted on January, although Atletico would be keen for Costa to play on loan somewhere else in order to maintain his match fitness. This is unlikely to be a deal-breaker, but it could distract Atletico in their attempts to land the Brazilian-born Spanish striker.

Everton may also be ready to provide a solution, with the club short of established strikers and the Independent reporting that manager Ronald Koeman would be willing to secure his services on a short-term loan. This would certainly add another piece to the jigsaw, helping to smooth any complications and help Costa achieve his dream move back to Madrid.

Will Conte Regret his Actions?

The saga surrounding Costa has been bizarre, with the striker deemed surplus to requirements despite scoring 20 league goals in 35 appearances as the Blues secured the title in Conte’s first season as manager. The issue first emerged last January, when Costa was linked to a move to China amid concerns over his fitness and dedication to the club.

Although a deal did not materialise, this seemed to fracture the relationship between the player and his manager, with the Italian famously discarding his striker by text at the end of last season.

While the relationship is almost certainly beyond repair, the question that remains is whether Conte will rue his conduct towards Costa. Deeming an experienced and proven forward surplus to requirements so soon after the season ended appeared reckless at best, particular with the Blues already short of alternative number -nines.

The subsequent signing of Alvaro Morata has done little to assuage the issue, as Chelsea continue to lack a strong and powerful centre-forward who can retain possession and link play.

Morata’s disappointing display during the 2-1 win against Tottenham at Wembley reaffirmed this, as while the Blues secured an impressive win they were constantly subjected to heavy pressure from Spurs due to their inability to retain the ball. Morata was too easily dominated by Tottenham’s powerful centre-halves, and Chelsea would have greatly benefited from Costa’s presence.

This is a trend that could well be repeated during other away games this season, during which the Blues will need to find alternative ways of playing if they are to be successful.

Time will tell for Conte, but Chelsea need options in attack

On a fundamental level, the Blues need further options and number in attack, particularly as they look to compete in both the Premier League and the Champions League this season.

In this respect, discarding a player who is capable of scoring 20 or more goals each season seems detrimental to the team, regardless of how difficult he can be to manage within the group.

Only time will tell whether Conte made an inspired managerial decision by axing Costa, or simply allowed ego and impulse to weaken his squad at a time when Chelsea are looking to build on last years’ success.

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2017 The Boot Room.