Atlético Madrid returned to winning ways after three games without a victory, as they overcame Real Betis with ease at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.
Before the clash, coach Diego Simeone had called for fans to back his players, who were “in a bad moment” and needed the support. In the pouring rain on Sunday afternoon, fans turned up and so too did the team, who produced their most commanding performance yet this season.
Winning by a three-goal margin for the first time since April, Atlético’s players themselves were happy with the display.
“We played a very complete game, defensively everyone was very good. It was the game we needed,” Jose María Giménez said.
It was a convincing win, and that pleased Simeone, who was forced to watch from the stands as he served his suspension after being sent off against Levante.
“Our most consistent game for sure, we played the game as we wanted to all the way through,” the coach reflected. “The own goal gave us tranquility, the margin could have been more.”
Intriguingly, Simeone’s opposite number offered a contrasting view.
“I don’t think we saw a Betis team as bad as the scoreline suggests,” Real Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini insisted. “In the second half, we had a good 15 or 20 minutes before the own goal, we had chances to equalise. In the end, the scoreboard shows Atlético’s superiority, and I’m not sure that’s what we saw on the pitch, but they did play better and deserve to win.”
Following three games in which Atlético uncharacteristically conceded seven goals, this was also the first clean sheet the Colchoneros have recorded since the win over FC Barcelona at the start of the month.
“We’re always extremists and within that, the last goals we conceded, three were penalties and one was a counter,” Simeone said. “Beyond that, the team was in a period of not being like today, an enormous collective effort. Today, the team we wanted showed up.”
It was a sentiment Giménez agreed with, even going so far as to echo the exact same statistic.
“Analysing the last few games and really watching them, we did good defensive work,” the Uruguayan said. “The last four goals we conceded were one counter and three penalties. The defensive work [vs Betis] was the same as the previous games.”
Another talking point from the win was Antoine Griezmann and his impressive display, even though he didn’t make it onto the scoresheet. The Frenchman created four chances and was involved throughout the tie.
“Watching today, I think we’ve found the Griezmann of old, working, assisting, getting into goalscoring positions…that’s how we need him, it’s the game we wanted when we thought of [acquiring] him,” Simeone explained.
“Griezmann knows what he means and how important he is for us,” Giménez agreed. “At first, he was a bit shy when he played, but now he’s coming out of his shell. His inner self is coming out. He’s strong, good and we need him like we need all the team to keep growing as a group.”
Griezmann is suspended for the midweek trip to Liverpool in the Champions League, having opened his LaLiga goal tally for the season on Thursday against Levante. He will hope to add to it against Valencia next Sunday.