El Centrocampista

HITTING THE HEIGHTS – Falcao gets into the groove in Madrid


After the high-profile departures of  Sergio Aguero, Diego Forlan and David De Gea this summer it is fair to say that many an Atletico Madrid fan entered the new La Liga season with a certain amount of trepidation. 

While the loss of promising goalkeeper De Gea was an obvious blow, the main concern of the Los Colchoneros faithful was on matters down the other end of the pitch – and who would replace the goals of fan favourite Sergio Aguero after his mega money move to Manchester City.

Any hope of strike partner Diego Forlan stepping into his golden shoes were dashed just weeks later after he pushed through his move to Inter Milan.

Scoring a combined 28 goals between them in the 2010/2011 season, replacing them seemed a nigh on impossible task and Athletico’s season seemed to be in reverse even before a ball had been kicked in anger.

They needn’t have worried. Fast forward four games into the season and all concerns have been subsided. A new hero and goal machine has been found and he goes by the name of Falcao.

While in the current economic climate it would have been easy to ‘bank’ the money generated by the player sales – Aguero moved for £38 million – in a decision which can only be applauded for its bold nature, the Atletico Madrid board supported manager Gregorio Manzano Ballesteros pursuit of Falcao and reinvested the cash to the tune of 40 million for the then Porto player.

It was a deal that smashed all previous transfer records at the Vicente Calderon.

It was a decision that to date has paid dividends.

Five goals in three starts see’s the Columbian sit proudly at the top of the La Liga goalscoring charts for this season courtesy of a hat trick against Racing Santander and a brace against Sporting Gijon.

The season may only be three games old, but already it is hard to see many dislodge Falcao from that top spot – even if their names are ‘Messi’ and ‘Ronaldo’.

This weekend sees Falcao pit his talent against the club of the former of these two, Messi and Barcelona and while the fate of a team that visit the Nou Camp often revolves around how well they handle the likes of Messi et al, this week the fortunes of Barcelona could revolve around how well they contain the Athletico Madrid hitman.

With Barcelona’s back line already depleted due to injury, dealing with Falcao will be their biggest test to date.

The make shift back four have dealt well with the majority of what has been thrown at them so far, but with respect to the teams that they have faced – little have entered the Barcelona half at times never mind had any meaningful spells of ‘attacking’ possession.

Whether the team labelled by many as ‘phenomenal’ can subdue a  player that has already been described by coach Manzano as a ‘phenomenon’ will certainly be one of the more interesting battles of this La Liga weekend.

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