The newly rejuvenated Madrid derby Sunday evening had both its "ups and downs" in regards to tactics and drive by the players. The Madrid "derbi" several years ago was considered an easy walk over by Real Madrid. The "derbi" as of now has been reignited with an explosive vigor. Atletico Madrid's ascension back into the upper echelon of European powerhouses of football has been much accredited to their manager, Diego Simeone. The Copa del Rey victory against their rivals Real Madrid last year at the Bernabeau marked Atletico's official return. Now with their victory at the Santiago Bernabeau in La Liga earlier this year, the mental stumbling block that plagued Atletico has been surmounted.
The final showing of the "Derbi Madrileno" in the La Liga campaign was electric to say the least. First blood was struck in the opening three minutes of the match at the Vincente Calderon. Diego Godin conceded a corner kick to los Blancos in the opening minutes; the corner was played in short to Di Maria who whipped in a cross to Karim Benzema who cleverly beat the offside trap. Simeone emoted his anger at both the fourth official and his squad, and rightly so as Felipe Luiz left the French striker to alone to stab in Di Maria's cross.
The game had an emotion to it, definitely fueled by los Colchoneros supporters at the Calderon who have been filled with a new faith in their team. Eventually their faith would produce goals, in the 28th minute Arda Turan twist and turned his way into the top of the Real box and found Koke. Jorge "Koke" Resurreccion fired his shot wide into the lower left hand corner of the net from right of the Real Madrid penalty box, 1-1. Los Rojiblancos didn't stop there either, in the 44th minute Atletico Madrid won a foul in the middle of the field in Real's half. Koke played the ball quick into the feet of Gabi. In the open space Gabi powered his shot from 30 yards out into the back of the net to make it 2-1 to home side just before halftime.
The game resumed after the 15-minute interval and the fiery atmosphere was again boiling up like a hot cauldron in the Calderon. Early opportunities fell to the host to take a two goal lead, none more brilliant than Costa's shot in the 51st. Raul Garcia chips the ball over the Real Madrid defense which were pressuring high up the field, for Costa to beat Pepe to the ball. Diego Costa closed in on Lopez in goal, and sent his opportunity wide of the far post. Things in the cauldron nearly boiled over at one point after an hour and five minutes. Costa was booked in the 64th minute for what the referee, Delgado Ferreiro interpreted as simulation by the Brazilian. The Atletico bench and coaching staff evidently felt different, Mono Burgos known for his time playing for Atleti was incensed with the booking on Costa. Displaying his emotions at the referee and for it after being pulled back by Simeone Mono left the dugout. Real Madrid eventually leveled the score when substitute Carvahal cuts down the right flank not contended by Mario Saurez and Carvahal picks out Bale. The Welshman couldn't control Dani's pass and the ball fell right to Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger couldn't miss from there, and the game soon became tenser in the ending minutes in search for a winner for both teams.
The match ended level at 2-2 in the Vincente Calderon in which Simeone felt the fire from the media. In regards to Simeone’s decision to hold off on making any changes until the 83rd minute when he brought on Christian Rodriguez for Arda Turan; many thought a change was coming earlier. Diego's counterpart Carlo Ancelotti made his first change on the night right before the game hit an hour. The boss for los blancos brought on the more attack minded Marcelo for Coentrao. The Real Madrid manager didn't stop there, in the 71st and 72nd minute Daniel Carvahal and Isco checked in for Arbeloa and Di Maria. The changes began to pay off for Carlo Ancelotti as Carvahal's pressure led to the equalizing goal for the Merengues.
Real Madrid now sits in first place in La Liga and with this draw places Atletico Madrid in third place. The difference between the top three in Spain is only two and three points. The La Liga title is Real Madrid's to lose, despite the upcoming El Classico match against Barcelona March 23 in Madrid.
A victory here can be the deciding factor for Real Madrid, but yet again can also be pivotal to Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Atletico Madrid. In the case of a Real Madrid victory it will push Real four points ahead of the blaugrana, with the assumption they achieve their results against the other teams in Spain the advantage goes to Real in that case. In a circumstance Barcelona win, the Catalans will leap frog los Blancos by two points, again impending they beat everyone else at the end. Again in the latter of circumstances, a draw, a draw would benefit Atletico Madrid, which could tie Real Madrid and make the final match of the league a do or die moment against Barcelona. For once the "harmony" of La Liga is being challenged with the likes of Atletico Madrid and their push for glory this year. The eyes of the neutral football public should now pay particular attention back to Spain. The new Triumvirate of power in Spain has begun to make the quest for the Spanish title entertaining again.