With every match he plays, Falcao’s reputation gets bigger and bigger. After 25 minutes of last night’s Europa League game between Lazio and Atlético Madrid, his side were losing 1-0 thanks to a goal from the predatory Miroslav Klose. By this point, Falcao hadn’t stopped running. He chased every lost cause, moved from right to left in search of the ball and was a constant menace for defenders. Then a cross was delivered into the box.
Falcao might not be tall, but his desire and incredible jumping power adds six inches to his height. Leaping above his marker, he headed the ball down to Adrian who fired home to level the match. Despite the quality of his assist, the key word here is desire. There might be more technically gifted players and there might be faster players, but of all the strikers in world football there cannot be many who want to score as much as Falcao does.
His two goals last night illustrate this perfectly. After 37 minutes, Adrian produced a beautiful backheel to send Diego into the box. As he controlled the pass, Falcao was three yards behind his marker. Sensing where Diego was going to put the ball, he accelerated past the defender to arrive at the back post at the perfect time to score from one yard.
His second goal was similar. Diego sent Adrian down the right with a great pass, Falcao held his run, lost his marker and drove past him to again tap in at the far post. It was a masterclass in the art of predatory forward play and added another €20 million to his price tag.
Lazio can only have themselves to blame for the result. Third in Serie A and brilliant in away games, they sat too deep and attempted to pass the ball around in defence to draw Atlético in and hit on the counter-attack. But the speed and workrate of Falcao, Adrian and Diego meant that they had to resort to long balls in the face of pressure and their forwards were left to chase.
Yet despite being 3-1 down going into next week’s game, their fans can look forward knowing that there are few sides better in Europe when it comes to winning away from home. If they can keep Falcao quiet and give their strikers better service, the match in Madrid could be a European classic.