The Rojiblanco Recap: Simeone’s soldiers sidetracked

Atleti's return to the summit was put on hold by a late equaliser on Friday

Diego Simeone looks on from the bench

Diego Simeone looks on from the bench

A Halloween howler was how AS described the moment that young Gimenez gifted a goal to Deportivo La Coruña – but to blame the draw solely on the Uruguayan would be ludicrous.

The defence was solid for the most part on Friday night with 86% of Depor’s shots coming from outside the box, one of these from Fajr came close to winning the game for the home side late in the second half.

The first half started so well for Atleti and many were predicting a thrashing for Depor who themselves have made a good start to the new campaign, but Tiago’s excellent volley was the only time Lux found himself collecting the ball from the back of the net.

From controlling 70% possession in the first half to hardly making a pass in the second truly shone a light on the two 45 minute displays that were polar opposites from Los Rojiblancos.

Simeone seemed content to hold on to a slender 1 nil away win when he substituted Jackson Martinez off for midfield terrier Saul but was left to rue that decision as Atleti now sit 4th in the table.

A serious shake up is needed in the squad and with Atleti boasting arguably their most well equipped in terms of depth, there should be no delay.

Dissecting that performance will no doubt be at the top of the agenda and Cholo et al will have a 3,500 mile trip to do it in as Los Rojiblancos resume Champions League against Astana.

Post-game notes and quotes

“The first half was excellent.” – Cholo

The boss hit the presser and pulled no punches.

“The first half was admirable but in the second we didn’t attack at all and didn’t generate any chances to score. The team stopped what it was previously doing but there was definitely a lack of intensity.”

“We will take the positives from the first half and use it as a platform in which to move forward from this result.”

“The result was not unrepresentative of the performance and I won’t shy away from that. Despite this, I leave with a sense of enthusiasm as we played an exceptional 45 minutes and played well against Valencia prior to this.”

Time to shuffle the pack

With an injection of youth over the summer Simeone has a wealth of talent to select from to help re-invigorate his side.

The second half display highlighted a lack of enthusiasm and invention that is criminal for a team with ambitions like Atleti.

There is no need to rid the team of all it’s regulars but maybe giving Gabi a less influential role and carving out a midfield around the maestro Koke could allow the canterano to really hit the heights he’s destined for and with more artistic license will no doubt reach.

With Koke in a more central position, there would then be an opportunity for the pacy wingers Correa and Carrasco to battle it out for a more regular place.

With Simeone’s recurring rotation allergy starlets like Oliver Torres, Saul and Correa are not receiving enough minutes for players of their quality.

The next few months will be telling but I have no doubts that Simeone and his team will find the solution and really utilise this stellar squad to the best of its abilities.

The final thoughts

  • Griezmann failed to find the net again and didn’t offer much in the way of turning the game in his teams favour. The Frenchman has a knack of not scoring against top six teams and Friday night continued this form.
  • Juanfran was a constant outlet and was untouchable in the first half but like the rest of the team, his performance dropped off par in the second half.
  • Tiago‘s goal was phenomenal and his excellent form continues.