As Atletico charged through no less than eight fixtures in a jam-packed January, Borussia Dortmund was able to coast and recover through three games thanks to the Bundesliga's winter break. How did both teams fare? Let's find out!
QATAR SC 0-3 BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Milos Jojic, Ciro Immobile
BORUSSIA DORTMUND 3-0 PADERBORN
Marco Reus, Matthias Ginter, Kevin Volland
KOLN 0-3 BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Marco Reus (x2), Sven Bender
BORUSSIA DORTMUND 2-0 WERDER BREMEN
Ciro Immobile, Sven Bender
It was an excellent short month for Borussia Dortmund as they swept every team aside, winning four consecutive matches (counting a friendly to kick off the month). The match against Qatar SC, played in the Middle East, was a training trip for der BVB to get back in match fitness and get a good game under their belts before returning to the Bundesliga.
That first match against Paderborn went perfectly to plan for Brian Laudrup's men. The highlights of the game were continued goalscoring prowess from superstar Marco Reus and a debut goal for Kevin Volland. The young German came on as a substitute with 13 minutes to play and made an instant impact with his 20 yard strike.
The match against Koln was much of the same; Marco Reus's brace sealed the way, with Sven Bender adding a rare goal. Surprisingly, Bender scored again in the next game against Bremen after Ciro Immobile opened the scoring after 21 seconds; the German international has only scored 6 league goals total since signing for Dortmund in 2009.
This fairly simple month is to be followed with a similarly straightforward February; however, one major challenge looms. The 18th of the 'month of love' heralds the coming of world giants FC Barcelona coming to Signal Iduna Park for the UEFA Champions League 1st Knockout Stage first leg.
ATLETICO MADRID 2-0 LEVANTE
Mario Mandzukic, Mattia Destro
ATLETICO MADRID 3-1 MALAGA
(COPA DEL REY 5TH ROUND LEG 1)
Alessio Cerci, Arda Turan (x2)
BARCELONA 3-5 ATLETICO MADRID
Mario Mandzukic (x2), Arda Turan, Joao Miranda, Koke
MALAGA 1-2 (2-5) ATLETICO MADRID
(COPA DEL REY 5TH ROUND LEG 2)
Arda Turan, Igor Camacho (OG)
ATLETICO MADRID 4-0 GRANADA
Mattia Destro (x3), Antoine Griezmann
ATLETICO MADRID 4-1 LEVANTE
(COPA DEL REY QTR FINAL LEG 1)
Nacho (OG), Alessio Cerci (x2), Diego Godin
ATLETICO MADRID 4-0 RAYO VALLECANO
Angel Correa, Jose Gimenez, Cristian Ansaldi, Emiliano Insua (OG)
LEVANTE 0-5 (1-9) ATLETICO MADRID
(COPA DEL REY QTR FINAL LEG 2)
Mattia Destro, Loukas Vyntra (OG), Angel Correa, Alessio Cerci, Saul
Unlike Borussia Dortmund, it was an extremely
long month for Atletico Madrid. However, positively, it was filled with eight straight victories, creating a surge of form that will be undoubtedly difficult to break. In this streak, we had a few very notable victories along the way.
For one thing, we have handily beaten Malaga in the 5th Round and Levante in the Quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey. We have drawn Celta Vigo in the semifinals, and I am fully confident we can emerge champions from that two-legged tie and take on one of Barcelona or Real Madrid in the final of the country's greatest cup competition.
Los Colchoneros managed to score no less than 29 goals, a little over 3.5 goals per game, over the course of January. The team scored at least four goals five different times, and scored five goals twice; first against Levante, and second, shockingly, against FC Barcelona.
It was an incredible match. Michael Laudrup surprised most people when his side came out in their usual, no-holds-barred attacking lineup, ready to take the game to Barcelona at the Camp Nou. A Mario Mandzukic brace and Arda Turan free kick, against all the odds, had put Atletico Madrid 3-0 up after eleven minutes
Lionel Messi's penalty in the 13th minute began what the 96,000 fans were hoping was a comeback, but it simply wasn't to be. Joao Miranda and Koke scored again in quick succession around the half hour mark, and, at 5-1, the game was dead and buried with still an hour to play. Luis Suarez scored two late goals to spark some hope, but it was far too little, and Atleti escaped with a shock win.
"It was an unbelievable win, the best of my career," said Laudrup after the match. "All the credit in the world to my players; they went out there and did absolutely everything that we needed them to do to get this victory. If we can beat Barcelona at the Nou Camp, we can beat anybody, anywhere."