Atlético a class act in Istanbul

Antoine Griezmann sparkled, and Los Colchoneros showed plenty of willing; UEFA.com's Çetin Cem Yılmaz was impressed after watching Atlético overcome Galatasaray.

Atlético celebrate Antoine Griezmann's second goal against Galatasaray
Atlético celebrate Antoine Griezmann's second goal against Galatasaray ©AFP/Getty Images

Opening a UEFA Champions League campaign with an away win is no small ask. Atlético Madrid kicked off their 2014/15 tilt with a best-forgotten 3-2 defeat at Olympiacos, but Diego Simeone's men made amends this time, Antoine Griezmann striking twice in a 2-0 Group C win at Galatasaray.

The Frenchman was at his energetic best in the first half hour. If his opening goal – a first-time shot after a good cross from Juanfran – displayed his classy finishing, his second showcased his poacher's instincts, the 24-year-old having moved into a space free of Galatasaray defenders to tap in after Diego Godin headed into his path.

Galatasaray's frailties?
Two goals inside 25 minutes exposed Galatasaray's defensive frailty, proving Hamza Hamzaoğlu's side are still a work in progress. Galatasaray paired Jason Denayer and Semih Kaya at the back for the first time, and although the former impressed with his energy, they had a hard time coping with Atlético's slick passing and movement.

At the other end, Galatasaray's main goalscoring threats, Wesley Sneijder, Lukas Podolski and Burak Yılmaz, seemed to lack the requisite chemistry. Each had attempts on goal, but none of them really tested Jan Oblak. Winger Yasin Öztekin, who was brought on after the break, said after the game that the Turkish double-winners need to play "more as a unit", and Hamzaoğlu could certainly have done with his front-men working together more harmoniously.

Hakan Balta under pressure from Fernando Torres
Hakan Balta under pressure from Fernando Torres©AFP/Getty Images

Steel and style
The result and the confident performance justified Atlético's billing as Group C favourites, their strength in depth underlined by the fact that they were able to call in Fernando Torres, Oliver Torres or Gabi from the bench. Moreover, for all their class, they work hard and expect the best of each other. Note the way after the match that Griezmann bemoaned failing to convert from a one-on-one late on. His remorse was not for missing out on a hat-trick but for having failed to lay on a goal for the unmarked Fernando Torres.

A sterner test may await Atlético as they welcome their main rivals for Group C top spot, Benfica, on the last day of this month. Galatasaray, meanwhile, will be making the trip east to take on Astana; closing on two years without a UEFA Champions League victory, that could be a journey all about redemption.

Top