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Atlético Madrid slipped up tonight on their return to Coimbra and had their second defeat of the season, both having come in the space of a week, as they went down to the weak Académica. The Spanish team didn't show their best side and weren't able to find the continuity necessary in their football to take anything home from Portugal. The 'rojiblancos' can blame the significant number of new names in the team and the lack of decisive men, but the bottom line is that defensive mistakes that cost them. Silvio's lack of concentration in the first half and Pulido's badly-timed challenge in the second meant two goals from Wilson Eduardo which leave Atlético's European winning streak at 16 games.
Simeone's men started off at the Ciudad de Coímbra stadium in an uncharacteristic state of calm for a European game, and despite not dominating the possession in a clear way appeared comfortable and confident that with the passing of the minutes they could break the resistance of a team with more heart and energy than any particular technical threat. With the foot only half-way down on the accelerator, Atlético started to attack Ricardo's box on a quarter of an hour with moves that weren't particularly dangerous, but seemed to be draining Académica's morale, the Portuguese unable to get out of midfield with the ball under control.
Despite being without numerous first team regulars held back by Simeone, Alético showed in the opening exchanges the solidity and potential that has made them the big alternative to break the Madrid-Barça stranglehold on the Liga. But the Madrid side came apart on the half hour after Silvio's serious defensive mistake which allowed Wilson Eduardo to steal possession and record the first goal of the night past an Asenjo who could do little but watch.
The Académica goal should have been motive enough for Atlético to move through the gears and make an impact on the scoreboard. But against all odds, Simeone's team started to crumble as mistakes, a lack of ideas, and indirect football came to the fore. They finished the first 45 minutes very quiet indeed, going into the break deserving neither to be in front or behind.
'El Cholo' Simeone wouldn't have been impressed at all with the turn events were taking. Perhaps it was his words at half-time, or the introduction of Pedro in place of Saúl which energized the team and encouraged them to take the match head-on, with more determination and more intensity. These were all features of the start of the second half. It took only 20 seconds for Koke to almost bag an equalizer with a long-distance shot whose bounce almost caught Ricardo out. After a period of the game in which the Spanish team dominated the ball, and during which Emre came on for Mario Suárez, Académica had some of their best minutes with a couple of dangerous attacks from wide positions, which helped to dilute Atlético's initial enthusiasm.
The game looked all but over with twenty minutes to go, owing to another defensive error. Pulido misjudged a tackle in the box, giving away a clear penalty that was converted by Wilson Eduardo for his second. There proved to be no more goals.
Diego Simeone's team gave a poor showing of themselves in Coimbra. They couldn't find the consistency, the concentration and the intensity that has made them the toast of Spain in recent weeks. On the second consecutive occasion this season, Atlético Madrid leave a football match empty-handed.
IMAGEN: Académica-Atlético de Madrid
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