Atlético de Madrid triumphed in the first Madrid Derby of the 2023/24 season, earning an impressive 3-1 victory against Real Madrid at the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano on Sunday night.
Los Blancos made the short trip across the Spanish capital as the only team in Europe's top five leagues to still boast a 100 percent record, but Diego Simeone and his players constructed an intelligent game plan and executed it to perfection.
Here comes a look at how Atlético de Madrid won this derby, with five of the key aspects outlined below.
Morata's confident start to the season continues
Álvaro Morata was absolutely key to the home side's victory, as he scored the opening goal in the fourth minute and then made it 3-1 just half a minute in to the second half. Those two goals mean Morata now has five in LALIGA EA SPORTS this season, so he is the joint-top scorer alongside Robert Lewandowski and Jude Bellingham. The 30-year-old has started the season with confidence, and also scored a hat-trick for Spain, who he is now the full-time captain of, against Georgia during the September international break. The striker is playing with maximum confidence.
The excellent crossing from Atlético de Madrid's left
All three of Atlético de Madrid's goals in the derby were from crosses originating from the left, which were then headed in by Morata twice and by Antoine Griezmann once. The forwards deserve praise for their finishing, but so too do the players who put the perfect balls into the area: Samuel Lino for the first and Saúl Ñíguez for the second two goals. The Brazilian and the Spaniard were dominant on the left side of Atleti's midfield and continued their good starts to the new season. Simeone knew that they could carry out his plan and the coach explained afterwards that: "We knew we could do damage down the wings and we tried to put in crosses from wide, like we did with the pieces of play from Lino and from Saúl."
Koke's timely return to midfield
Another midfielder who was key to Atletico de Madrid's win was Koke, the club captain. He had been out with injury, but was able to make his return for this game and to play the first 45 minutes. In normal circumstances, Koke would probably have waited another few days before returning, but he understood the importance of this fixture and put his body on the line to deliver an impactful half of football, before Axel Witsel was substituted on at half-time to finish the job.
Griezmann is dying to win LALIGA EA SPORTS
Griezmann was another hero of the night for Atlético de Madrid. Not only did he score the second goal of the game, but the Frenchman was involved in the build-up throughout. At the final whistle, his joy was clear to see and Morata explained afterwards why this meant so much to his strike partner. "Griezmann is dying to win a league title with Atleti," Morata stated. That motivation fuelled Griezmann on Sunday night and will do throughout the rest of the season.
The roar of the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano
The fans played their part too, as a record crowd of 69,082 flocked to the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, capitalising on the stadium's recently expanded capacity. This was just the second home game of the season for Los Colchoneros, so the fans attended with extra motivation and created an electric atmosphere that spurred the team on and that surely contributed to Atleti's brilliant start to each half. The result means that Simeone's side have now won 11 games in a row at the Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, which is a record since their move to that venue in 2017.