Diego Simeone has heaped praise on the shoulders of Nikola Kalinic, who scored against Alaves at the weekend.
The Croatian striker scored his second goal in as many games and has now given Simeone a good replacement for Diego Costa, who has been ruled out through injury.
“Kalinic has been working hard for a while, ” he told reporters. “He came from a difficult year at Milan and has been looking for his place in the team.
“We’ve talked about it. I don’t promise anything to anyone. I only get carried away by what I feel and the sensations my players transmit.
“He did well against Sant Andreu and he did well again here. That makes us happy because we need him.”
3-0 win over Alaves
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.
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 and Rodri grabbed a late third for the hosts, tapping in from close range after Pacheco kept out a powerful strike from Angel Correa.
Final thoughts from Simeone
“We played well in the first half, creating many chances and dominating for most part,” the Coach said after the match.
“They took advantage of some situations from set-pieces and on the counter and they’re a very tough team to face, as well as being very prepared.
“Still, we went ahead and, obviously, from there we took a step forward. They sat very deep so we brought Saul and Montero into midfield.
“They gave us more power and talent through the middle. From there we grew and found the other two goals once we tightened up at the back and also through Griezmann’s quality.”