Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid played out another thrilling city derby on Thursday night — the eighth single-elimination cup tie in 11 years that required extra time between the two teams. After last week’s 5-3 loss in the Supercopa de España semifinal in Saudi Arabia, Atlético flew back to Spain and rode an electrifying atmosphere at the Cívitas Metropolitano to a 4-2 win on Wednesday — knocking out last season’s Copa del Rey winners and advancing to a quarterfinal against Sevilla next week.
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Antoine Griezmann, newly-minted as Atlético de Madrid’s all-time top scorer, provided the eventual match-winning moment in the 100th minute. Griezmann scored one of the best goals of his career, a strike that immediately goes down in club lore, a screaming finish from a tight angle at Andriy Lunin’s near post that saw the Metropolitano erupt with delight.
Atlético exorcised the demons of last season’s cup exit and did so in style, generating better chances than Madrid (2.96 expected goals/5.27 xG on target against 1.81 xG/1.89 xGOT) and edging the battle in midfield thanks to a monumental Koke performance. But Griezmann’s golazo was the pick of the bunch — although Rodrigo Riquelme’s 119th-minute goal gave it a run for its money — and it was the game’s unquestioned defining moment. It demands a closer look.
Unlike other goal breakdowns I’ve written, I plan to use only two gifs for this one and point out just a couple things I saw before talking a bit more about the game as a whole.
Some of the “how?” behind this goal can be traced back to Sunday, when Real Madrid and FC Barcelona played the Supercopa final in Riyadh. Los Blancos won 4-1 behind a Vinícius Jr. hat trick, and Madrid repeatedly punished Barcelona’s high line in a comprehensive victory. But after that game — in which Vinícius played more than 80 minutes despite bagging his hat trick before halftime — Madrid had to fly all the way back from Saudi Arabia and prepare for this game, which produced arguably the loudest atmosphere in the Metropolitano’s six-year-old history.
Eduardo Camavinga (on the ball, on the left) was a substitute at Al-Awwal Stadium on Sunday but started on Thursday night, and as my friend Kiyan Sobhani has said, his performance was somewhat of a mixed bag. Camavinga was booked on 56 minutes for swiping at Marcos Llorente — and in the 57th minute, he deflected a Llorente pass into his own penalty area, creating the confusion between Lunin and Antonio Rüdiger that led to Álvaro Morata’s goal.
As Madrid try to build an attacking move in the 100th minute, a visibly-tired Camavinga evades the pressure from Pablo Barrios and takes his time to pick out Vinícius. But the pass is offline — it’s too short, and Vinícius has to come back for the ball. Making matters worse, the Brazilian’s touch is too heavy — a sign of exhaustion setting in.
A well-positioned Barrios nearly wins the ball back himself, but Vinícius is intent on correcting his mistake and deflects it beyond the young midfielder. This eagerness comes back to bite the Madrid star, as it’s Griezmann — still pressing high up the pitch at this point in the game — who hunts down the loose ball and begins a slaloming, determined run into the penalty area.
Aurélien Tchouaméni (#18) also appears to be one of the Madrid players most affected by all the travel. A midfielder by trade, Tchouaméni has seen minutes in central defense recently as Carlo Ancelotti has sought internal solutions for Madrid’s injuries at the back this season. This sequence might convince Ancelotti to look elsewhere.
Tchouaméni is seen lightly jogging into the penalty area after Griezmann picks up the ball. Perhaps because he sees the game more like a midfielder than a center-back, Tchouaméni misses a great opportunity to close down his France teammate at the near post. This probably would have ended the move, with Madrid happy to concede a corner (it would have been Atlético’s only corner of the evening).
Instead, Griezmann holds off Vinícius and shakes him entirely at the edge of the six-yard box before taking a couple more steps into the space Tchouaméni concedes. Griezmann then rips a fierce shot over Lunin’s outstretched right arm into the top corner — he hit it so hard and so accurately that the netting barely moved at the far post. He tore off his shirt in celebration of his 175th Atlético goal, and refereed Guillermo Cuadra Fernández showed him a yellow card — one of 12 awarded Thursday night between the two teams.
“Revenge is served in a Cup,” Marca proclaimed. “Griezmann’s 175th goal deserves to be in a museum,” said Diario AS. For the first time since 2015 — a two-legged tie in the round of 16 — Atlético eliminated Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey, making the most of an incredible show of home support that began as the team bus rolled into the Metropolitano.
“When you see our people cheering like this, it’s impossible not to give them your heart,” Diego Simeone said post-match.
A left wing-back opened the scoring for Atlético; another one closed it. Samuel Lino took advantage of a Rüdiger mistake on 39 minutes, the German center-back clearing Rodrigo de Paul’s cross (which Griezmann nodded on) into Lino’s path. That was the Brazilian’s fifth goal in 21 appearances this season — Yannick Carrasco, the man he replaced, scored 10 times in 44 games last year.
⚽️ ¡¡GOOOOOOL DEL SAMUEL LINOOOO!! ¡¡SE ADELANTA EL ATLETIIII!!— RFEF (@rfef) January 18, 2024
Imposible de alcanzar para Lunin el disparo cruzado del carrilero. ¡¡Grita el Cívitas!!
@Atleti | 1-0 | @realmadrid | 38’
ℹ️ Minuto a Minuto: https://t.co/CAQw8fCr6Y #LaCopaMola | #CopaDelRey pic.twitter.com/Sp8P8xvSA3
Griezmann also played a small but important part in Riquelme’s goal. As he was being shoved to the ground by Vinícius, Stefan Savić played a mishit pass toward Nahuel Molina that Griezmann touched on to Barrios, having gained inside position on Madrid left-back Fran García. Barrios played the pass short to Molina, who switched the play to the middle of the pitch with a soaring long ball to Memphis Depay. The Dutchman waited and drew Tchouaméni to him before releasing Riquelme, and the Spain international popped the ball into the corner of the net, at the far post.
39 derbis desde la final de Copa de 2013:— La Colchonería (@la_colchoneria) January 19, 2024
12 victorias del Atleti
13 triunfos del Real Madrid
39 derbis antes de la final de Copa de 2013:
2 victorias del Atleti
28 triunfos madridistas
“We weren’t really thinking about revenge,” Griezmann said after the game. “We wanted to play a cup tie at home, the last one was a long time ago, and we wanted to go through. The atmosphere was great, it gave the team wings to fight and play the way we did in a game like this.”