Atletico Madrid 1-0 Elche: Rodrigo De Paul stars in his first start for the club | La Liga 2021-22

Angel Correa and Rodrigo de Paul of Atletico Madrid against Elche CF-La Liga
Angel Correa and Rodrigo de Paul of Atletico Madrid against Elche CF-La Liga

Atletico Madrid continued their La Liga title defence with a hard-fought one-nil win over Elche on Sunday.

A first-half goal from Angel Correa gave the La Liga champions a win at home at the Wanda Metropolitano, where fans were returning for the first time since March 2020.

Despite the party atmosphere at the stadium where a strong 25,00 fans were allowed in, the hosts could not stamp their authority early in the game with Thomas Lemar and Saul Niguez guilty of some carelessness.

However, the home teams eventually found their goal when in the 39th-minute new boy Rodrigo De Paul found Correa with a precise ball in the box to score his third goal in three games. 

In the end, Correa’s goal was enough to seal the win for the hosts, although the visitors continued to press for an equaliser. However, they found Atletico too hard to break down with Diego Simeone’s side now with two wins from two games.

After the match, we look at three main talking points.

Correa continues his red-hot form

Angel Correa continued his hot goal scoring form with another crucial goal on Sunday. The Argentine international was on the score sheet in the opening game where he scored two goals. Against Elche, he again proved crucial and was the difference-maker for the second consecutive week.

Atletico will need him to keep reproducing this every week, especially given that Carrasco and Luis Suárez are yet to pick up form.

Rodrigo De Paul justifies his price tag

When Atletico Madrid forked out €35 million ($41 million) to sign De Paul from Italian side Udinese, many people raised their eyebrows in doubt.

The 27-year-old is by far the most expensive signing in La Liga this summer, costing over €20 million more than his international teammate Juan Foyth who moved to Villareal. 

But on Sunday, the midfielder justified his price tag, putting up a display worthy of the faith Simeone put in him.

He delivered 22 passes in the opposition half—more than any other player on the pitch—until his substitution in the 62nd minute. 

Atletico will hope he produces more of this kind of performance as they look to retain the La Liga title this season.

Return of fans 

For the first time in over 500 days, fans returned to the Stadium. Although their return had little bearing on Atletico’s performance, it was good to see them return to cheer their team after such a long time out. 

Atlético felt the impact of their absence mostly on their finances, as match-day revenue stopped during the time they were away. But their return has once again opened that channel.

It is now hoped that their presence will bring a tremendous boost to the club both in terms of finances and stadium atmosphere.