Atletico off to flyer in La Liga

by Neil Sherwin

The opening weekend of La Liga was all about Real Madrid but while Jose Mourinho’s men limped to a 0-0 draw with Mallorca, city rivals Atletico cruised to a resounding 4-0 over Sporting Gijon on Monday night.

Atletico caused a surprise in their first big hitout of the season by defeating Inter Milan in the European Super Cup on Friday thanks to goals from Jose Antonio Reyes and Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero and followed it up with a masterful display in front of a packed Vincente Calderon.

World Cup Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan picked up where he left off in South Africa, netting twice either side of strikes by Jose Manuel Jurado and veteran Simao Sabrosa.

Before the game, head coach Quique Sánchez Flores urged his side not to be complacent after their win over Inter but he need not have worried as his side hit the front with just eleven minutes gone when Jurado fired home from Raul Garcia’s pull back.

Gijon pressed for an equaliser but were denied by the excellent David De Gea in the Atletico goal, and they were undone again when Forlan struck from inside the area.

The Uruguayan bagged his second and Atletico’s third to put the game beyond doubt, and there was still time for substitute Simao to fire home a superb fourth in the final minute.

While Real yet again hogged the limelight in Spain with their seemingly endless summer spending, Atletico looked at building on the solid foundations laid during the second half of the 2009/10 season.

They went about their off season business quietly, keeping hold of stars  Forlan and Aguero while adding Fran Merida of Arsenal to their ranks and renewing Tigao Mendes’ loan deal from Juventus.

An horrifc start to the 2009/10 season saw left them languishing in 17th place after twelve rounds, but they recovered well to finish in 9th and picked up a first European trophy in 48 years.

Flores has many exciting options at his disposal and, on this evidence, Atletico will no doubt be looking to push for a finish in the Champions League qualification spots come May.

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