Sunday served as Atlético Madrid's first trip to Estadio Benito Villamarín since March 23, 2014. A 2-0 victory that day moved Atlético to the top of La Liga for good; eight weeks later, they were Spanish champions. Now, 20 months later, with Joaquín and Real Betis back in La Liga, Atleti made a return to the Benito Villamarín looking to capitalize on Real Madrid's heavy defeat in the Clásico and jump two points clear of their city rivals.
A goal from Koke did just that, and Atlético withstood some nervy moments at the end to secure the three points. Despite the narrow scoreline, Atleti played very well and created a bevy of good chances that simply did not go in. Still, lots to like from the win, and los colchoneros will look to keep it going Wednesday in the Champions League against Galatasaray.
Jan Oblak, GK: 8
The Slovene made a tremendous save on Álvaro Cedujo as Betis began to threaten after a lackluster first half. Aside from fumbling the ball late with Jorge Molina breathing down his neck, grabbed everything that came his way with confidence. With yet another clean sheet, Oblak continues to develop into a world-class goalkeeper.
Jesús Gámez, RB: 6
Juanfran's deputy was more than good enough on Sunday, leading all Atlético outfielders with eight clearances and playing some neat passes in the final third. Hopefully, Juanfran will be back Wednesday, but Gámez did well on Sunday, and Simeone will select him with confidence if Juanfran isn't fully fit by midweek.
Diego Godín, CB: 7
The faraón helped keep Betis forward Rubén Castro quiet and soldiered on through two nasty headed collisions with opposing players in the second half. Had a couple chances off set pieces, but couldn't quite guide them into the net. Hopefully the Uruguayan suffers no ill effects from clashing heads with Antonio Adán and Alfred N'Diaye.
Stefan Savic, CB: 7
The Montenegro international looked more at ease on Sunday and could even be in line for another start Wednesday, despite José Giménez's return to fitness. Atlético have not conceded in any of the four games he's played this season.
Filipe Luís, LB: 7
Filipe's run of good form continued against Betis. He has rapidly developed great chemistry with Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and contributed to some of Atlético's better moments in attack, although his crosses were a bit off. Defensively, he picked up a yellow card for flying into Joaquín, but otherwise did a solid job handling the Betis legend.
Gabi, RM/CM: 6
The captain had one of many chances to extend the scoreline late on with a long-range rocket that landed wide of the far post. Full of running as usual, moved into a more attack-minded role when needed, did a fine job on the right side. Almost as if he can play there on occasion.
Tiago, CM: 8
The Portuguese, yet again, was decisive on Sunday. At times it was like having a third center-back on the pitch; when Betis tried to apply pressure, he calmly headed the ball out of the box or cleared it out of danger. Tiago's aerial excellence, superb positioning, long ball delivery and general intelligence are all so crucial to the side.
Koke, LM/CM: 7
Koke scored his second league goal in the seventh minute, smashing home a Fernando Torres-generated rebound with the right foot. Aside from scoring the winner, the Spanish international was quite active in attack, drifting towards the center and passing incisively. When Carrasco ventured forward, Koke stayed behind and covered for Filipe. But most importantly: he played in the center!
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, LM: 7
Made the tackle that effectively set up the game's only goal in a brilliant extra effort. Really should have done better on the one-on-one chance he was afforded just before halftime, was his usual persistent self in the final third otherwise. One of Atlético's most important players now.
Antoine Griezmann, FW: 6
Weird day for Griezmann, who was undoubtedly playing with a heavier heart than most. You could tell how badly the Frenchman wanted to score Sunday; he skied two clear chances, was brought down by Heiko Westermann for a penalty that was never called and struck the woodwork very late on. Grizi was all over the pitch and had a few great chances, but just couldn't finish. Watch out, Galatasaray.
Fernando Torres, FW: 7
Very good 70-minute performance from Torres, his first in a while. He was particularly energetic in the first half and even flashed some Niño of old with nifty dribbling and a good first touch. Didn't get that 100th goal, but it'll come if he keeps this up.
Luciano Vietto, FW: 6
Came on for Torres in the 71st minute. Vietto's first appearance since the Madrid Derby went well, as he worked hard to involve himself in attack; for example, sent Griezmann through late on, but the Frenchman hit the post. Would be a ballsy call to start him Wednesday, but he showed a healthy amount of progress in only 20 minutes.
Óliver Torres, LM: 5
Came on for Carrasco in the 77th minute. Had a chance fall to him in added time after Gámez picked him out, but he couldn't quite turn and get the shot off. Most minutes Óliver has played since getting 25 against Valencia a month ago.
Saúl Ñíguez, CM: 5
Came on for Koke in the 82nd minute. Brought on to hold down the 1-0 result, Saúl did just what Simeone asked of him.