Atletico Madrid temporarily reached the top of La Liga yesterday afternoon following a 3-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano over Deportivo Alaves.
Diego Simeone’s side have remained unbeaten in the league for two months now, however drew their last two matches at home to Barcelona and away to Girona.
Simeone continues to have a depleted squad, and with Diego Costa set to be out for up to two months following foot surgery, the Argentine has to rely on summer arrival Niko Kalinic to assist Antoine Griezmann in the goals department. Thankfully for the coach, the Croat broke his Atleti duck on Wednesday in the 4-0 win against Sant Andreu in the Copa del Rey.
Atleti welcomed an Alaves side that have been seriously impressive so far this term, currently sitting fourth in the table. Abelardo’s side have had a dip in form recently however; picking up seven points from the last 15 available.
The hosts grabbed the opening goal of the game in the 25th minute. Thomas Lemar spread the play out to full back Santiago Arias and the Colombian whipped the ball into the box that was met by Kalinic who diverted the ball into the net with his stomach.
Alaves nearly grabbed an instant response following the goal; however Ibai’s 20-yard shot was saved by Jan Oblak.
More injury woes greeted Simeone in the closing stages of the first half, when Lucas Hernandez went down with a leg injury following an aerial challenge with Jonathan Calleri. The Frenchman was brought off to be replaced by Jose Gimenez, who had just returned following a month out with a hamstring injury.
The Uruguayan nearly grabbed the home side’s second three minutes into the second half, smashing the post from a Lemar corner.
The Babazorros showed in the second half just how dangerous they have become this campaign, continuing to threaten the makeshift home defence and questioning a normally comfortable Jan Oblak’s abilities with the Slovenian keeper lacking conviction with many of his attempts to clear the ball.
Antoine Griezmann wrapped up the three points for the hosts in the 82nd minute. The striker’s initial shot at goal was stopped by a challenge from Victor Laguardia, however the ball bounced off the post and returned to Griezmann who tapped in from a tight angle. Rodri grabbed a late third for the hosts, tapping in from close range after Pacheco kept out a powerful strike from Angel Correa.
Atleti sit level on points with Sevilla following the Andalusian’s 1-1 draw with Valencia in Saturday’s afternoon fixture. Los Colchoneros’ stay at the top ended last night after Barcelona comfortably defeated neighbours Espanyol 4-0. They travel to the north west next weekend to face Valladolid.
Alaves remain in fourth, however could be overtaken by Real Madrid should Los Blancos defeat Huesca this afternoon. Abelardo’s men welcome Athletic Bilbao to the Mendizorrotza Stadium on Monday 17th.