Atlético Madrid have stung like a bee for years, but sometimes they can float like a butterfly too.
Even in a sweaty, gritty defensive arm wrestle with Getafe, los rojiblancos managed to display some poise and beauty on their way to scoring the second goal of the 2-0 victory.
Seven different players touched the ball, finishing up with Thomas Lemar’s finish. Lucas Hernández started the move, winning back possession and feeding the ball through Koke, Filipe Luís, Antoine Griezmann, Saúl, Juanfran and Lemar, who played it back to Griezmann, who returned possession to his countryman via a flick to Koke. Lemar’s shot was the 18th touch of a 22-second move that featured nine passes and that involved everyone except Jan Oblak, José María Giménez, Thomas Partey and Diego Costa.
It was one of the best passing goals los colchoneros have scored in the Diego Simeone era. It was, one might think, very un-Atleti. But that’s not quite true.
There have been other swift and zippy passing moves from the capital city side this season. Just a few days before the trip to the Madrid suburbs to take on Getafe, Simeone’s men went to Monaco in the Champions League and produced another eye-catching goal. It was the equaliser and it was much more direct than Lemar’s Getafe effort, but just as pretty. Just three touches were needed for the ball to move from Juanfran to Koke to Griezmann to Costa, who finished emphatically.
Away at Valencia, there was another carefully constructed goal, a move which also took 22 seconds from start to finish. From a Juanfran throw-in, the ball moved through Griezmann, Koke, Stefan Savić, Diego Godín, Juanfran again, Koke again and Griezmann again, with the Frenchman then sliding a neat through ball into Ángel Correa’s path. The Argentine then netted Atlético’s first LaLiga goal of the season.
While Simeone’s team will never adopt tiki-taka or even Atletiki taka, they do have players who can execute every type of pass and they do have the know-how to pick apart defences with quick and precise movement of the ball.
It’s a useful weapon to have and, for fans, it’s thrilling. For Atlético supporters, Lemar’s goal in Getafe is their equivalent to the famous 2013 Arsenal goal against Norwich, the team move finished by Jack Wilshere. It’s different. It’s beautiful. It’s fun.
The grit remains and Atlético still sting like a bee. But the fact they can also float around an opponent’s half like a butterfly makes them a scary and fascinating prospect.