Atletico Madrid striker David Villa says injury issues were behind his recent barren run, while he was delighted to get back on the scoresheet with a brace in Sunday’s 5-0 La Liga win over Real Betis.
• Corrigan: Atletico on song
Villa, 31, went into the game having not scored in his last seven Colchoneros appearances, and after having been left out for last week’s Champions League win at Austria Vienna.
However, he returned to form with two goals in four second-half minutes -- first flashing a close-range header into the back of the net, then thrashing the ball home after a lightning Atletico break.
Spain’s record international goalscorer, who pulled out of the recent World Cup qualifiers with an ankle problem, told Canal Plus after Sunday’s game that he had been confident he would be back amongst the goals once he returned to full fitness.
“I am happy and not just for [the goals],” Villa said. “First for the victory for the team, and then for feeling good. My goals were going to come. I am recovering from some fitness issues, with my ankle under control, and being good on the pitch.
“My CV is there, whoever wants to can study it. When you go through physical problems you cannot perform at 100 percent. For example, I adore the national team, but I had to -- on this one occasion -- say no to a call-up.”
Villa also thanked Atletico coach Diego Simeone for his support throughout a mixed start to life as a Colchoneros player.
“Even before signing, he was already supporting me,” he said. “He wanted me here and I appreciate that. I have a task on the pitch and I try and do that as well as possible. I am happy to repay his confidence with goals.”
Simeone himself told reporters, after a result which leaves Atletico just one point behind La Liga leaders Barcelona, and a full five ahead of third-placed Real Madrid in the table, that having El Guaje back to his best form will be important for the club’s chances this season.
“In Vienna, Villa did not play, Raul Garcia came out and made an impact,” Simeone said. “Against Betis, Villa started and responded. He rediscovered what he lives for -- goals. He did very well in both situations, finished really well. It is normal that a player of his level needs to rediscover the goal. We need Villa at his best.”
Simeone also mixed his praise with words of caution regarding the potential of 18-year-old playmaker Oliver Torres, who opened the scoring just 13 seconds into his senior debut for the club.
“I recognised that the team needed his characteristics,” he said. “[Oliver] could do it at moments, then in others he did not find consistency. We expect a lot more from him. He is young and this will be useful for him to take confidence. When the team needs him, he will be ready.”
Atletico took their foot off the gas after scoring so early, Simeone suggested, but had then shown their class in a second half which also featured goals from in-form striker Diego Costa and captain Gabi.
“We started very well, got ahead on the scoreboard early and that stalled a little our play, our intensity,” he said. “In the second half the team went for the game and played brilliantly.”