- Costa returns to practice
Hello Atléticos, and welcome to another Weekly Rojiblanco. It was great to see Atlético Madrid finally put together a dominant performance in European competition this season, even if it was against Copenhagen. More importantly, Atlético’s attack was clicking despite Diego Costa’s absence — he did not make the trip due to injury.
The good news is that Costa returned to training during a Thursday night walkthrough and seems to be on the path to recovery. Hopefully his absence is a short one, as Atlético will need all hands on deck if they are to push for the Liga and Europa League titles.
- Cerezo sends a shot across Barça’s bow
Speaking of a title push, Atlético president Enrique Cerezo insisted his side are in a title race with Barcelona after recent results saw the seemingly untouchable 11-point advantage for Barça dwindle to a somewhat less-untouchable 7 points. If the trend signals a slight downward turn for Barça and Atlético continue to put together results we could have an exciting finish.
The next four matches will be telling, with Atleti set to host Athletic Bilbao and Leganés on either side of a visit to Sevilla, who handily dismissed us from the Copa del Rey in January. Then, on March 4, los rojiblancos will travel to Camp Nou for the second of two meetings this year.
If we can come out of that stretch within striking distance of the top, things could get very interesting.
- A Stadium Called Wanda to host Copa final
The Wanda Metropolitano has been selected to host the Copa del Rey final this season. The match will take place on April 21 and will feature Barcelona and Sevilla. This is exciting though unsurprising news for the new venue, considering its predecessor, the Vicente Caldéron, hosted the last two Copa finals.
- Kit sponsor in doubt
A potential ruling from the European Securities and Markets Authority could force Atlético’s Israel-based kit sponsor Plus500, Britain’s second largest online sports betting firm, to withdraw their sponsorship of the club. The case is part of a larger effort to crack down on the seemingly unregulated online sports betting industry in Europe.
No timetable for such a change is indicated, and it is unclear what alternative sponsors the club may have lined up.
- The marketing machine is firing on all cylinders
Atlético’s marketing department was working overtime this week. On Tuesday they dropped this cross-promotional video with Alfa Romeo.
Then this morning they put out the following clip ringing in the Chinese new year.
Happy #YearOfTheDog! @saulniguez, @JoseMaGimenez13 and @CarrascoY21 would like to wish all our #AtléticosAroundTheWorld a Happy #ChineseNewYear! ⚪ #AúpaAtleti pic.twitter.com/LoVNxYEQYJ— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 16, 2018
Nice work, guys.
- A howler for the ages
Last, and perhaps least, I’ll leave you with this stunning howler by on-loan keeper André Moreira.