Nahuel Molina, also in the goal

His was more than a goal for different reasons. The first, for that shirt that he kept on the Vallecas bench just in case, in case he scored in his 33rd game with the rojiblanca. Last season, the second and last one at Udinese had been eight goals, but for now, that box at Atlético was zero. And with a challenge: an Argentine defender hadn’t scored with the elastic mattress since he in December 2003, against Celta de Vigo, Matías Lequi did it. Twenty years ago.

But in the 22nd minute of this Rayo-Atlético match, Griezmann had blown his boot so that his team could finally escape the Rayista pressure vertically. And he had looked for Morata in a deep pass that Álvaro touched to leave the ball free to that Nahuel who ran for something more than himself, his team and the shield on his chest: he ran for a friend who had stayed at home, he ran for a friend with whom he was proclaimed world champion in Qatar in December, with his team, Argentina, ran for his mother, Marcela, who had left this week leaving such a big hole in his heart that he had not allowed her to play that afternoon. But there he was, Nahuel, with his shirt ready on the bench just in case. In case yes. For what he was: he kicked with his right foot from 17.9 meters like an extension of the soul, for a friend and for his mother. The ball had not touched the net and he was already running to the bench to turn on and raise that shirt high with the ’10’ on his back who was not there but actually filled everything. Angelito, Correa, as it was read, that friend, with the intention that that goal could ease the pain a bit.

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Cholo’s first outfield player

Something that also claimed him, Nahuel himself. From a start between nerves and failures to this moment in which he feels a stadium at his feet, with a goal that opened a game in which Atlético had not managed to step into the area until now, find a loophole. With trust has managed to silence the buzz to turn it into applause. In April, Nahuel has achieved something that had never happened with Cholo: that a signing was the outfield player most used by the coach in his first season. He adds 2,835 minutes. Ahead, in the ranking, only Oblak has played more (3,244). Behind, the field player who follows him is Griezmann is 2,725. With his performance as another photo of what Atleti is after the World Cup in Qatar. An unbeatable team, which in 2023, except on January 8 against Barça, does not lose, which counts its last five games by victories. A team that flies, flies. Doherty, who arrived in January just in case, has only played 12′.

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