After 533 days, Atlético Madrid fans were back at the Wanda Metropolitano to witness the most Atlético Madrid of performances and results: a 1-0 win against Elche.
Diego Simeone’s side have won their first two games of the season and currently sit at the top of LaLiga. Ángel Correa is the league’s top scorer after he notched his third of the season on Sunday night.
“Since the pandemic started, the fans have been with us,” Correa said. “To have them here is an incredible feeling and we wanted to dedicate this performance to them.”
The Argentine scored the game’s only goal after Rodrigo de Paul clipped a lovely ball into him — the midfielder making his home debut for the club and his first start in Simeone’s side.
Despite the win, and the sublime goal from Correa, it was the fans’ return that was the high point for Simeone.
“The guys needed it,” he said after the game in relation to the 25,000 fans in the stadium. “It has been a year-and-a-half since they were here. We could show off the trophy we won last year, which was a lovely thing for the people who have lived through a very ugly year.
“It’s obviously something beautiful for us to play in front of our people again, they’re like an extra player.”
Atlético have won their first two games now by the slimmest of margins and Correa said they are in good shape, but Simeone said the preseason was not easy with the number of international players in the squad.
“The preparation for all managers hasn’t been easy and even more so for us,” Simeone said. “We had the most players on international duty, a lot in South America. You have to vary the work during the week, today we were missing some of our troops. We knew we could count on Luis (Suárez) for 30 minutes along with Trippier, Lodi and Correa, who started. They are the ones with the least amount of work.”
What’s more, Atlético didn’t have it all their own way and Elche controlled the ball for long spells.
“We couldn’t kill it off,” said Simeone. “But they didn’t create many chances.”
Finally, Simeone expanded on why he wants a striker to come in the final days of the transfer window and add competition for Suárez.
“In the squad we look to balance out the competition,” he said. “When we prepare a squad, we try to have two players per position. If we can’t get a player, we will find a solution like we always do.”