Spirits are high at Estadio Vicente Calderón. Atlético Madrid not only secured passage to the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday but are very much alive in the race for La Liga, sitting only three points behind leaders Barcelona entering play Sunday afternoon. Atleti's opponents on Sunday, Granada, are in a relegation scrap - just two points off the drop - and have never won at the Calderón. In fact, the last time Granada beat Atlético away? October 1959, at the Metropolitano - seven years before the Calderón even opened.
Back to the present day. Atlético made a couple changes to the XI that midweek knocked out Barcelona. Augusto Fernández began on the bench and Lucas Hernández slid in at left back for the suspended Filipe Luís, while Stefan Savic made his first La Liga start since February 21. Simeone's side seized control early, as Koke blasted over inside two minutes. That would set the tone for the canterano and his team.
On 15 minutes, the ball fell to Lucas on the edge of the box, and he played a short cross to Fernando Torres. El Niño went for goal but the shot was blocked. Fortunately, the deflection went to Koke, whose right-footed shot caught Andrés Fernández completely off-guard. Atleti led 1-0 on Koke's fifth of the season - but oddly, his first at home.
Granada did not go without chances, though. Atlético were caught often on the counter in the first half and the Andalusians' best chance came when Rubén Rochina hit the post with an effort from 20 yards. Rochina had Jan Oblak beat and was perhaps unlucky to not score as Atleti held on to the 1-0 lead after 45 minutes.
The second half began slowly, but as often happens, the game changed when Cholo went to his bench. Yannick Carrasco was removed after 55 so-so minutes and Augusto replaced him. Four minutes later, a simple Augusto pass from midfield started the buildup that led to Atleti's second. Koke fed Torres with a great ball and El Niño applied a trademark finish to double the advantage. Torres made it four in a row with a goal and Koke's assist was his league-leading 13th of the season.
The game was put properly out of reach in the 83rd minute. Oblak took a goal kick that Saúl Ñíguez headed down to Ángel Correa, who had come on for Griezmann just after the hour. Correa sprinted through on goal, switched to his right foot and calmly slotted home to expand the lead to 3-0. The goal was the 13th scored by an Atleti sub in La Liga and Correa is responsible for four of those goals; both tallies lead the league.
Atlético's convincing win ensures that los rojiblancos will finish the weekend no lower than second. Furthermore, Atleti are up to 76 points with five weeks to go after recording 78 points all of last season.