Draw Against Promotion Rivals Atlético B (1-1)

Game three in Estadio Balear was in front of 1000 spectators – the maximum permitted by the health regulations – against Atlético de Madrid on a warm Sunday.  The Madrid side are also competing for promotion from Segunda B, and in fact last season both teams had a great start to the season as they fought to be top of the league.  Atlético B arrived with a few players missing, with some players called up by Cholo Simeone to the first team and some missing through suspension.  On the other hand, Jordi Rodger was only missing the injured Alberto Gil for this game with José Peris returning after his ban and Acosta and Baselga both back in the side after recovering from their respective injuries.  However, despite training well on Thursday and Friday Coro felt a niggle and pulled out early on Sunday.

Jordi Rodger went for an almost identical lineup to the first game of the season, with two changes from last week’s game.  Juan Carlos started in goal behind a back four of Ferrone, Peris (brought back into the line up), Olaortua and Orfila.  In midfield a double pivot made up of Alfonso and Kako (replacing Alex Barrera) and Pichin and Fito on the wings. Haro and Vinicius started upfront.  In the first half the high press of the opposition team was notable.  Several times the ATB defence as well as Juan Carlos himself were forced to clear the ball long under the intense pressure from Atlético when trying to pass the ball out from the back.  However ATB started the game well. The opening minutes were really good with Pichín especially dangerous, and he had the first opportunity after a pass from Vinicius which allowed the winger to break free behind the defence and try to beat the onrushing keeper – ex Baleares player Valens – but the Keeper did well to stop the effort.  In the 18th minute Pichín threatened again with a cross that flashed across the box but couldn’t find a target to turn it in. For the visitors, Majorcan captain Tony Moya had a fantastic game in the centre of the park.  Nando had the first opportunity for the visitors with a shot in the 20th minute  from outside the area that went straight into the Keepers hands.  The second effort he didn’t miss.  In the 23rd minute Nando cut inside the Defender and struck an effort across goal with the ball curling away from Juan Carlos and clipping the woodwork on the way in, leaving the Majorcan keeper no chance.  1 nil.  In the very next attack, though, Nando was injured and had to be substituted. The goal was a big blow to Jordi Rogers’ team. Toni Moya could have  scored the second from outside the area  with a great swerving shot that drew a fingertip save from Juan Carlos.  ATB pushed hard for the equalizer in the last 15 minutes of the half, playing well with the ball but Atleti defended extremely well and waited patiently to counter against the home team who were circulating the ball well. Ex UD Ibiza centre back Mariano played especially well. ATB would have to try again in the second half.

After the restart, Rogers made two changes to give more rhythm to the team with Barrera and Baselga coming on in place of Fito and Kako.  ATB had a huge amount of possession and dominated on the wings with Pichín and especially Luca putting in crosses from the touchline threatened but couldn’t find the final touch.  In the 55th minute great link up play between Barrera and Haro ended in a weak shot from Danny Pichín into the hands of keeper Valens.  The winger had another really good chance minutes later in the 63rd minute with a  near post shot after beating his marker and cutting inside to shoot.  ATB didn’t have many chances to win left.  ATB we were pushing forward more with their hearts than with their heads.  Haro on the right wing was full of creativity and created constant danger, along with Luca. Barrera made up the double pivot with Armando, who came on in the 65th minute and helped to build play and inject creativity with a great performance from the British player. In the 87th minute great work from Baselga after sublime control saw him lift the ball over the defence twice to find space before shooting into the hands of Valens.  The effort deserved a goal after such great solo work.  A minute later ATB got their reward. Pichín found Baselga unmarked in space who picked out Vinicius who slotted home second for the Brazillian’s second goal of the season. There was still time to score the second but despite their best efforts ATB were unable to find it and in the end the points were shared.  Acosta came on for ATB during injury time for his debut.

Line Ups:

Atlético Baleares: 13. Juan Carlos, 2. Ferrone (93′, 18. Acosta) , 3. Peris, 22. Orfila (c), 4. Olaortua, 14. Alfonso (68′.Armando), 16. Kako (45′. 8. Álex Barrera), 21. Fito (45′ 19. Baselga), 11. Pichín, 7. Haro y 9. Vinicius Tanque.

Atlético de Madrid B: 13. Valens, 5. Rojas, 6. Calavera, 7. Abde Damar (62′ 19. Tenas), 8. Toni Moya (c) (56′, 17. Ismael), 9. Borja, 11. Nando (28′ 38. Perea Junior), 16. Castro, 21. Medrano (60′ 20. Forcen), 22. Mariano y 38. Corral (67′  33.Carlos Rojas)

Referee: Vicente Moral (Castilla and León)

Assistant Referee: Javier Gago

Fourth Official: Ivan Pablo

Bookings for Atlético Baleares: None

Bookings for Atlético de Madrid B: Yellow card for Nando.

Stadium: Estadio Balear. 1000 asistants

Post Match Interviews:

Jordi Roger: “We didn’t want to draw; we always want to win and take the 3 points but when you cannot win you have to know how to draw instead.  If only we could have drawn the last game.  We tried really hard to score in the second half and I can’t reproach the team at all, we were motivated, we stretched the play on the wings – we didn’t want them to get the upper hand and we’ve taken two points off them… we had good chances whereas they only had the one for the goal and a shot from outside of the area. We knew that this isn’t a typical team – they train a lot with the first team and they defend really well, they know how to stop and slow down the game, they counter really well and we needed to open up the pitch.  It wasn’t easy and we knew it wouldn’t be. The key was to put ourselves on the front foot going forward but it didn’t turn out that way in spite of starting the game well. They scored a really good goal with their first shot on goal and we started to doubt ourselves and get a little bit nervous. In the second half 95% of the time we were in their half and we’ve taken a point that we will see at the end of the season is a good one and an important one.  When Barrera came on he has the ability to drive forwards and beat the last man, with 80% of possession, Armando adds a lot because he builds play, plays in between the lines and he creates opportunities. I think that the changes worked well and gave us something extra, Balelga also played well. If we had had Coro (on the bench) he would have come on and he would have really added a lot – for example the one on one from Alberto Gil but we can’t think about what we don’t have,  we have to find solutions with what we do have. We have to win points at home and away, that’s football, and last week we played against a team with real presence like Rayo.  Today I can’t be disappointed with the team because we started the game really, pushing high up the pitch. In the end we will judge whether the point is a good one after we have played the other games (this season).  You have to know when to draw when you cannot win.  We will continue to prepare to play Castilla as planned, and we will see if we play, we think that we will play but we will wait to hear if it is going to be this weekend or another one.”

Alex Barrera: “When we play at home we always want three points but with the way that the game went we have to be happy with the point.  They scored against the run of play and it is a team that doesn’t compete in the same way as everyone else;  they parked the bus and made it a really scrappy game, we moved the ball about and managed to find the equaliser and we’re happy with the point.  I think that we moved the ball really well in between the lines, but the problem was that we didn’t manage to find the goal early enough and we should have scored earlier. When a team is that defensive it’s difficult. The problem was that they had one opportunity and they scored and in the second half when they are ahead on the score sheet then you have to take risks and that’s what we tried to do.”