“Vuelve la misma cancion” after Atletico went down 0-1 at home top Levante in the Copa Del Rey last night.
It would seem that one of the certainties in Spanish football is that Atletico Madrid will always fail to live up to expectations. Disappointment and frustrated dreams seem to attach themselves to that club year after year, after year.
This year it looked like it might be different. The club made some terrific signings and, under Aguirre, started the season with some great results. They showed a previously unheard of grit and determination to grind out results even when the odds were against them. We started to believe that, perhaps, this year was going to be different.
Up until a fortnight ago, Atletico had picked up a couple of injuries but nothing more than any other club might consider par for the course. Then disaster struck. Within days of each other Maxi Rodriguez and Martin Petrov suffered cruciate ligament injuries that will see them out of action for at least six months.
The situation is compounded by the fact that the pair of them have been instrumental in Atletico’s success this season and both had been creating, and scoring, goals. Maxi on the right wing and Petrov down the left wing had been key to the team’s tactical formation. Aguirre not only has to contend with the loss of his leading source of goals, but will also have to adjust his formation and tactics.
Aguirre then suffered a further setback after losing Mista to injury during the weekend defeat to Depor. The former Valencia striker is expected to be out for at least a month. Petrov, Maxi and Mista had scored half of Atletico’s ten goals scored so far this season.
Defeat to Deportivo at the weekend does not represent a crisis at Atletico. However, last night’s 1-0 home defeat to Levante in the Copa Del Rey is a cause of real concern for the Atletico fans who have seen promise turn to disappointment too many times before. Atletico Madrid can, and must, overturn the one goal deficit in a fortnight’s time if they are to avoid this season taking on an all too familiar pattern.
The Copa Del Rey may not carry the prestige of the FA cup, but it does offer the chance of the first piece of silverware for the ‘Matalassers’ in a decade. (Atleti last won a genuine in trophy in 1996 when they won the league and cup double). Perhaps, more importantly, it represents a realistic chance of qualification for Europe, something that the club and its collection of stars desperately needs.
Atletico face a very tough game at home to Zaragoza at the weekend and the game now takes on added significance - It is a ‘must win’- if the Madrid club are to show that this year is going to be different. Otherwise we may be treated to the familiar Sunday evening spectacle of fans in red and white striped shirts shaking their heads and muttering “Vuelve la misma cancion”.