Diego Simeone rested players in this first leg encounter, but his side were still hot favourites to take a convincing lead over Athletic. Despite a strong opening from Atletico, it was Athletic who should have taken the lead after ten minutes. Herrera sliced wide with the goal invitingly before him. It was a miss that would prove costly.
Athletic goalkeeper Iago Herrerin was the man of the match, producing fine saves throughout the game. Two particularly fine saves denied Adrian Lopez and Diego Costa. It was another worrying blank for Costa. His work rate is still there, but the goals have dried up. His last goal was on December 21st last year. Is his mind elsewhere? Rumours persist that Manchester United are monitoring Costa, with an eye on him replacing Real Madrid target Wayne Rooney.
United are also keen on Atletico winger Koke. It was Koke who crossed the ball for Godin to score the only goal on 41 minutes. Next week’s second leg should be a tight affair but I still predict that Atleti will advance to meet city rivals Real in the Copa semi-final.
The Atletico team paid tribute to former star player Falcao before the match. An injury on Wednesday has ruled the prolific Colombian out of this summer’s World Cup. His former team mates strode out at the Vicente Calderon with red t-shirts proclaiming “Fuerza Tigre”. Simeone must be hoping that Costa rediscovers his own tiger force soon!