Atletico Madrid failed to cement second place in La Liga as Diego Simeone’s side slipped to a shock 3-0 defeat to Espanyol at the RCDE Stadium on Saturday.
The visitors had multiple chances early on with Alvaro Morata, Koke and Stefan Savic all going close, but Los Rojiblancos struggled to find the breakthrough.
Espanyol punished Atletico for failing to take the initiative as they broke forward on a swift counter attack, with Diego Godin unfortunate to slide the ball into his own net from a cross to hand the home side a shock lead.
The same pattern continued after the interval, and Espanyol required just six minutes of the second half to double their lead. Atletico’s backline was caught out once more as Borja Iglesias broke clear through on goal before slotting past Jan Oblak, who was punished for poor positioning off his line.
Things went from bad to worse for Atletico late on as a clumsy challenge from Juanfran inside the box saw Espanyol awarded a penalty with a minute remaining. Iglesias stepped up to fire home from the spot, sealing his brace and capping an emphatic victory for Rubi’s side.
Starting XI: Lopez (6); Rosales (7), Naldo (7), Hermoso (6), Pedrosa (7); Melendo (6), Darder (7), Roca (7), Granero (6); Wu (6), Iglesias (7)
Substitutes: Puado (6), Sanchez (N/A), Garcia (N/A)
Key Talking Point
With nine points separating Atletico both from league leaders Barcelona and from Real Madrid in third heading into Saturday’s game, Diego Simeone’s side are effectively playing their season out to an end with little at stake, albeit they still require a point to seal the runners-up spot.
A lack of incentive certainly showed in what was an uncharacteristically casual performance from Los Rojiblancos. Instead of thriving off the lack of pressure and turning on the style with a strong lineup, Altetico’s stars largely struggled to get themselves going at the RCDE Stadium.
2 – Atletico Madrid have conceded two LaLiga away goals against Espanyol in a single game for the first time under Diego Simeone. Strangeness. pic.twitter.com/PBQ0GpcKRN
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 4, 2019
Borja “El Panda” Iglesias scores his 14th goal of the season to put Espanyol 2-0 up at home to Atletico Madrid. Sensational assist from Oscar Melendo. Atleti need a point to secure second place, they might have to wait until next week!
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) May 4, 2019
The visitors had a number of presentable opportunities to take the lead but failed to capitalise on their early pressure with some unconvincing finishing, whilst a stray attempt at a simple pass from Rodri Hernandez which went straight out of play in the opening half an hour summed it up.
Atletico’s poor defensive work was the biggest surprise, as gaps appeared in a backline which is usually air-tight under Simeone’s intensive instructions. With little to play for besides points for the rest of the season, Los Rojiblancos already appear to be in holiday mode.
Starting XI: Oblak (5); Juanfran (4), Savic (5), Godin (4), Filipe Luis (7*); Koke (6), Hernandez (5), Niguez (6), Lemar (5); Griezmann (6), Morata (6)
Substitutes: Correa (6), Vitolo (5), Montero (5)
STAR MAN – Nobody in an Atletico shirt turned in anything close to a memorable performance on Saturday, with Los Rojiblancos’ defence largely at fault for poor positioning on both of Espanyol’s goals, whilst the visitors were generally ineffective in midfield and attack.
Filipe Luis was hardly at fault as an individual, with much of Espanyol’s attacking headway coming down their left flank, whilst Luis was able to get forward to good effect at times, and delivered a dangerous cross at 1-0 which should have been turned home for an equaliser.
Atletico host top four-chasing Sevilla at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in what is set to be another testing La Liga clash for Diego Simeone’s side next Sunday.