Any match between Madrid rivals Atlético and Real promises to be a fiery affair so it was no surprise to see thousands of fans pile into MetLife Stadium on Friday as the two sides faced off. None of them would’ve expected Atlético to dominate like they did as Los Colchoneros dispatched their rivals with a convincing 7-3 scoreline.
In most cases, it is dangerous to read too much into the results of preseason matches as they are generally not a good indicator of how a team’s season will unfold. But for Real Madrid, getting embarrassed in this manner by one of their biggest rivals is simply too much to ignore. Club captain Sergio Ramos acknowledged his side’s poor performance but was careful to not sound overly pessimistic.
“We’re obviously not feeling great right now. There are many ways in which to lose, but we can’t be doing it like we did today. That’s the difference in football. We played a friendly match and they went at it as if it were a final. We have to bring that intensity to every game”.
For Atléti, this match could not have gone any better. In a summer that saw them sell stars Antoine Griezmann, Rodri, and Lucas Hernandez for a combined €270 million as well as lose club legends Diego Godín, Juanfran, and Filipe Luis, many were questioning their ability to remain competitive this season. But following their rout in New Jersey, all those doubts have suddenly turned into optimism about what this new-look Atlético can accomplish.
Most of that optimism is centered around one man in particular, new-signing Joao Felix. Even though Diego Costa scored 4 times before being sent off, it was the 19-year-old Portuguese attacker who stole the show. Felix did not seem daunted in the slightest at the prospect of replacing the outgoing Griezmann or living up to his €126 million price tag and was dazzling throughout the match, coming away with the man of the match for scoring once and assisting two more of Atléti’s seven goals on the night.
Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone was cautious about getting carried away after his side’s great performance. The Argentine was naturally pleased with his players’ work on the day but typical of his style, wanted to keep his players grounded and focused on the areas in which they could’ve done better.
“I do not rush to anything, I live the reality of the moment. It was a good game but I do not consider this match to be the reality of potential between each other, There is always something that can be improved”.