Tactics, Harmony, Determination see Atlético Madrid Win
It has been almost 14 years since an Atlético Madrid team defeated Real Madrid. In those years, they have played 25 times with Atlético Madrid failing to register a win in the Derby Madrileño. Yet the run of going winless against their bigger, richer and more attractive city rival came to an end on Friday night as Atlético Madrid would win the Copa Del Rey 2-1 in extra time to claim the tenth Copa Del Rey title in club history.
At first, it seemed like the story would repeat itself as Real took an early lead thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo heading home a ball from a corner. The goal signaled the early dominance that Real had over Atlético as Real pressed early on in order to take control of the game and try to run their rivals off the park. But, Atlético would stick to it’s tactical gameplan and slowly get into the game by remaining calm and begin to win ball possession with a Real Madrid who facilitated as it began to take their foot off the pedal a bit after the goal. Atlético Madrid would signal it was fully back into the game as ten minutes from half, Radamel Falcao would take a pass from midfield, split two defenders and deliver a near perfect pass to Diego Costa who would calmly take his shot and slot into far lower right corner of the goal to equalize.
In the second half, Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone would show off his tactical acumen by having his team play a counter-attacking game knowing that it was Real Madrid, who were playing the final in their home stadium. Read Madrid was the favorites to win, and other reasons were obligated to win this game and therefore would be obliged press and look for the win. Real Madrid did press, but it found itself denied on at least three occasions by either the crossbar or posts and several other times denied by fine Atlético keeper Thibaut Courtois who would make some spectacular saves. As Real kept getting denied, Simeone’s tactical gamble was paying off with Real beginning to show signs of frustration. During the run up to the game, much had been made of the internal issues between Jose Mourinho and many, if not the entire Real Madrid squad. Atlético Madrid made no secret of how they were committed to winning and were united in their desire to win the game. Then in the 77th minute after a foul was committed at midfield, the frustration of one Jose Mourinho boiled over and began to dissent with the referee who heard enough and sent Mourinho to the dressing room.
The frustration and angst being felt by Real Madrid continued to manifest itself in the form of committing tactically-unnecessary fouls and picking up cautions as the second half ended and entered into extra time where at the right moment, as in the 98th minute, Atlético broke on a counter and on a cross into the penalty area, Joao Miranda would head it past Diego Lopez for what would be the game winner. As if Jose Mourinho being sent off was not enough, Real Madrid played the last few minutes of the game with ten as Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off for an off ball incident after having been fouled. At the final whistle, Atlético Madrid for the first time in 26 games could finally claim a win over their city rivals and win the Copa Del Rey in the process of doing so.
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