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Iñako Díaz-Guerra | 24/01/2013
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. How tired the phrase, how certain it is. Just look at Atleti; this Atleti of Simeone who press as if the players were made of metal and the ball a magnet; this Atleti whose defence wouldn't lose concentration if Charlize Theron and Olivia Wilde crossed the box chatting; this Atleti who qualified for the semi-finals untroubled despite the absence of Falcao, the shining star amongst so many unresentful supporting actors; this Atleti who now face up to Sevilla, knowing that this season is heading directly towards the red and white history books (those that do exist), but who will continue to behave as if they were a small, humble team. They aren't. The whole of Atleti is a whole lot of football.
Betis got a good sight of it early on. Despite their fans greeting the bus with shouts of, "Yes we can!" the home team never showed true belief. They were surprised by the decision of Mel to gamble on Salva Sevilla instead of Molina, and to renounce the option of playing with two strikers and trying to create mayhem in their rival's ordered back line. If the plan was to use mobility as a weapon it blew up. Not even a single 'Thibauting' in the whole game. If Courtois had saved the penalty that gave Betis the equaliser he would have been on advertising hoardings the world over. But it wasn't to be.
Diego Costa never takes the afternoon off. The Brazilian and Perquis had a score to settle from the first leg and neither is the type to forget that kind of thing. The first time they crossed they exchanged 'gifts': nutmeg from Costa, foul from the Pole. The Atleti forward took the kick like the adrenaline shot in the heart from 'Pulp Fiction'. And he didn't stop mixing it up until the break.
After several of his trademark breaks in which he seems to only look at the ground but magically ends up in the danger zone Nacho stopped him with an elbow to the face that the referee Clos gave as a simple foul. That was lighting the fuse on the dynamite. After a series of sprints with Manquillo (incredible physique), he gifted Adrián the best chance of the match so far. The player from Asturias however maintained his habit of weak shots and so Diego Costa decided to sort things out himself.
He was helped, it's true. Just before half-time a clearance from Miranda fell to Amaya, who, under pressure from the Brazilian and the lack of a decent shout from his goalkeeper, headed back to goal, with the keeper already running to the ball. The end result was Diego Costa through on an empty net.
Costa's celebration, glaring in defiance at the stands, set off an altercation en route to the dressing room, but once inside Betis hauled out the white flag. Forever. Mel took Beñat and Campbell off and put Molina on; he passed unnoticed. It was a statement of intent for a second half in which only Vadillo (watch him with the ball and you know he's a real player) was up for it. Well, him and referee Clos, who blew for a soft penalty on Molina. He took it and scored. It didn't matter. It was the 90th minute and Atleti were already thinking about Sevilla. It will be on Thursday, with the 2010 final still in everyone's minds.
IMAGEN: Atleti brushed Betis aside