Champions League: Atlético 2 – 0 PSV

Rojiblancos claim top spot in Group D with 2-0 win over Dutch visitors

Players celebrate after Griezmann's goal

Players celebrate after Griezmann's goal

Atlético Madrid made it 5 from 5 in the Champions League on Tuesday night, winning Group D with a 2-0 win over PSV Eindhoven after Bayern Munich were beaten in Rostov earlier in the day.

Second half goals from French duo Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann ensured the three points, lifting spirits in the Vicente Calderón after Saturday’s derby disappointment.

Diego Simeone had a lot of questions to answer after the weekend’s 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Real Madrid, and opted to revert back to 4-4-2 with Tiago coming in and Koke moving wide.

However, it took a while for his team to get going, and knowing before kick-off that they only needed a point to top the group after Bayern’s loss perhaps led to a subdued first half.

PSV also knew that the result would have little impact on their case for third place and a spot in the Europa League, given that they will now have to beat Rostov on the final matchday.

There were still chances though, Kevin Gameiro guilty of squandering a sitter early on when he somehow managed to side-foot the ball wide after a great cross from Carrasco.

Gastón Pereiro also capitalised on a slip to go clean through on goal at the other end, but shot straight at Oblak under pressure from Antoine Griezmann, who had ran back from his striker position to try prevent the goal.

Griezmann was to be rewarded for his hard work and it was he who set up the opening goal, although not after compatriot Gameiro went close again either side of half time.

First, the former Sevilla man was denied a clear chance by a last ditch challenge from Jetro Willems, before just failing to get on the end of a Giménez header at the back post just after the break.

He got the goal he so craved shortly after though, picking up an incisive pass from Griezmann and finishing in style, lashing the ball past PSV ‘keeper Zoet in emphatic fashion to break the deadlock.

It was Gameiro’s first goal for Atlético in the Champions League, and should relieve some pressure after a series of misses both tonight in some of our previous matches.

Just over 10 minutes later, Griezmann added the second with a cool finish of his own, slotting past Zoet after great work from Tiago in midfield to intercept a loose ball and play it in to him.

The Portuguese’s influence had a real impact on Atleti particularly on the second half, his cool head giving Koke less defensive responsibility and easing the burden on Gabi, whilst making the team look a more solid unit overall.

PSV didn’t push too hard for a route back into the game, and the hosts were able to see out the final stages with the authority and solidity that we haven’t really seen since last season.

Gameiro did have one last chance to add to his tally before the final whistle, but headed Koke’s corner onto the crossbar via a deflection.

All in all, not the most eventful of games but the Calderón will go home happy, and so will Simeone. His team were professional and did what they needed to do in order to win the group.

We can now turn focus back to La Liga for the next few months, with the trip to Bayern Munich in matchday 6 now a dead rubber given our six-point advantage over the Germans.

Player ratings

Jan Oblak – 7

Will be delighted to claim his first clean sheet in over a month. Didn’t have to make any spectacular saves, but was assured throughout and was well positioned to stop Pereiro 1-on-1 in the first half.

Sime Vrsaljko – 6

Not as involved as he was against Rostov, but didn’t do his chances any harm. Put in a few good balls, but wasn’t really tested defensively. May get a run at left-back if Filipe is indeed injured after hobbling off.

Diego Godín – 7

Should’ve done better with a header in the first half, although but for the slip that let Pereiro run through, he stood strong throughout and helped us see out the win in the closing stages.

José María Giménez – 7

Nice to see him back in the team. Savic has struggled in recent weeks, and his performances may give Cholo a decision to make before Osasuna on Sunday. No rash challenges or decisions, which is always a bonus.

Filipe Luís – 6

We were hoping he would pick up a yellow card tonight so that he could serve a suspension at Bayern, but instead he hobbled off injured with what looked to be a hamstring. Lets hope it’s nothing serious.

Gabi – 6

Did his usual job in the middle of the park, and will have been glad to see Tiago back alongside him given his recent frustrations. Passed the ball well and made sure PSV had no space to exploit through the middle.

Tiago – 8 (Man of the match)

Just his second start of the season, which is hard to believe given how good he was. Of course, at 35 and on the back of a horrific leg break he can’t play every week, but on tonight’s evidence he could be just what we have been lacking in recent weeks. Class act, great assist too.

Koke – 7

Saw a lot of the ball and looked assured (even found a teammate from corners on a few occasions). Didn’t do a huge deal wrong in midfield, but it’s clear that the system works better when he is in the interior role.

Yannick Carrasco – 7

Lots of endeavour and enterprise, albeit without too much to show for it. Had a couple of good runs in the first half and was the driving force in attack as usual, but didn’t pack his shooting boots tonight.

Antoine Griezmann – 7

Goal and assist tonight, which is good to see given his foot injury and quiet recent form (Rostov aside). In and out of the game, but can always be counted upon to make the difference when the chances come.

Kevin Gameiro – 7

Although he missed some chances, he never shied away and was rewarded with a very well taken goal. Worked hard and caused problems, can’t help feel that the assurance of being an undisputed starter would help his confidence.

Subs

Juanfran – N/A

Saúl Ñíguez – N/A

Do you agree with our ratings? What did you make of the performance?


  • Kris

    Truly MOTM performance from Tiago. Traditional midfield performance.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    To each his own I guess

  • AndersAT

    It didn’t look like a 442. It looked more like 433 with Koke working pretty central as well. It looked good. Tiago is such a complete player. Better than Gabi in my opinion. He should keep getting playing time.

  • KO CESARO

    javi martinez will be a fantastic replacement for tiago

  • KO CESARO

    i am so proud of tiago and gimenez

  • Hannu

    Absolutely!

  • AndersAT

    Tiago is truly a complete midfielder. If he keeps playing like this we should keep renewing his contract.

    Right now I don’t think we have a “replacement”. In my mind Koke is the natural replacement. If Koke gets better at breaking up plays he will be complete as well (probably not as good a header as Tiago though ). In time I think Saul will be the partner in the central midfield.

    But the next couple of seasons Tiago, Gabi and Saul along with Thomas and Augusto should rotate in the 2 or 3 central midfield positions.

    But I don’t think Koke and Saul are good enough to dominate the midfield alone yet.

  • Rowly

    I went last night and I spent quite a lot of time studying the midfield. Without the ball it was 4-4-2, but with the ball things got very interesting because varied our point of attack a lot and it seemed very orchestrated rather than by chance, these were the variations that I observed:

    1) Simple 4 in midfield with Koke on the right and Carrasco on the left, Gabi and Tiago deeper to create room for Griezmann to drop into.
    2) As above but with Koke and Carrasco switched, the switch only happened from our goal kicks.
    3) Tiago sitting deep with Koke & Gabi pushed higher to create a V in midfield with Carrasco pushed into a front 3 with Griezmann & Gameiro.
    4) Tiago and Gabi sitting deeper with Koke in front of them to create an inverted V which allowed a forward 3 of Carrasco, Griezmann and Gameiro to play off of Koke who was the pivot.
    5) Carrasco and Koke pushed as far forward as possible to create a 4-2-4.
    6) Carrasco would make runs towards goal from wide positions with Griezmann and/or Gameiro pulling out wide to create space for him to run into.
    7) Koke moves very tight into the middle and Carrasco moves very far forward to create room for the full-backs to push forward.
    8) The full-backs both push into midfield which allows us to overload the midfield and also to then push men forward to overload higher up the pitch. This was where we got caught on the break a few times, it has it’s dangers but at least has attacking intent. However, this also allows us to press the ball quickly if we lose possession with forwards dropping back and full-backs & midfield closing any space quickly.

    It was quite fascinating watching what happened and how they all knew what to do, they had obviously worked on it and also for me highlighted how vital it is for us to have Koke on the right, his tactical intelligence and versatility allows us to do things in attack that Saul just can’t (yet…) and is therefore more valuable to us on the right than being a static centre midfielder.

    However it also highlighted for me that there were weaknesses in our approach.
    1)The space left behind full-backs for teams to attack on the break.
    2) The straight lines on a flat 4-4-2 are vulnerable to someone with pace breaking through the lines, better teams than PSV will manage this and so we will need Griezmann to drop back and create a 4-5-1 to close out space.
    3) If there’s no room for Gameiro to run into then his impact is limited, his best spells in the game were when we sat deeper or PSV pushed us back and we either broke quickly or attacked from deeper positions. Maybe where we miss a physical striker to occupy defenders and create space for others in tight spaces.

    Interestingly PSV started with 5 in defence but soon switched to 4 at the back to try to wrestle back control in midfield, second half they were 5-3-2 out of possession and a very attacking 3-3-4 when in possession with full-backs into midfield and wide midfielders pushed right up to try to win the game, once we’d picked them off and went 2-0 up they seemed to go into damage limitation mode and into a 5-4-1.

    Anyway, if you’ve read all of this then well done lol, and if you get the opportunity try to observe our midfield when we have possession, it’s interesting (or at least it was last night!) particularly as the midfield is a hot topic of debate on here.

  • Rowly

    Kranevitter I think but it will take some time for him to catch up in terms of experience. We should keep Tiago as he’s still quality and the younger players will certainly learn from him.

  • AndersAT

    Cool.

  • Koke

    I think Tiago is so criminally underrated when he’s at his best. As to your question, I don’t think we have a like-for-like replacement for him, but are there really many out there? And we have plenty of players capable of playing his position on paper.

    I think Koke is his natural replacement, but he needs to work on his defensive work (Gabi, Tiago, and Simeone can surely help him with that). Koke is much more creative than Tiago but isn’t as good as a goalscorer, though I don’t think he needs to be. Koke also will never be a standalone DM but I do think with a good DM partner we’ll always be fine.

    Saul is another up and comer. I know you think he’s a jack of all trade, master of none, but I think that’s more because he’s always played out of position and can’t focus on one role. I have no doubt that he can make a great DM if he sticks with it. Otherwise box-to-box midfielder is his best role. He also is a great goalscorer.

    Kranevitter? How’s he doing at Sevilla? I don’t watch many of their games but I feel like he’s not starting that often, but probably because N’zonzi has been such a beast. I think he’s a massive talent and our only real standalone DM for the new generation.

    Also Thomas – I’m still a massive fan and think that he has tremendous potential, even if he doesn’t play often. He’s very graceful, and honestly reminds me of a faster, more attack-minded Tiago sometimes (I know a lot of other people may not see it or agree).

  • Koke

    Tiago should sub for Gabi more often. Gabi plays too much – not that he doesn’t deserve to start, but more that nobody should play 90 minutes for as many games as he does.

    I know I’ve never been a huge fan of the double-pivot + Koke, but I think it has its place in some games (like against RM or Barca, for instance.) Only really works if we have the GGC up front though – people who can create and score their own chances.

    GGC is so underrated in my opinion. Yes, all three of them have been on and off goalscoring form so far this season, but I swear to God, hear it here: once they all hit peak form at the same time, we will have the second best attack in world football after MSN. I don’t think I’m overrating them. Talking about Carrasco from a few weeks ago, Griezmann from the Sporting game, and Gameiro doing everything he’s been doing so far except taking more of his chances. With a top-form Koke behind them and hopefully a well-adapted Gaitan, there’s really no limit to how good they can get. So much pace, dribbling, teamwork…

  • Hannu

    Wow that was cool! Think I have to see the game again. 🙂

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I think that Koke should be the one in the center to play the most, letting Gabi and Tiago rotate with each other because of age and consistency. For a few weeks i had pointed out Gabi’s under performances when others were oblivious to them and honestly I still think we have to play a couple games without him if not for the mere fact that was mentioned about his fatigue.

    I would like to see Carrasco, Koke, Gabi/Tiago, Gaitan/Correa tho. When actual wingers play it helps take pressure on the wings off of our fullbacks who have way too much to do in my opinion

  • AnonX

    Standard Formation I felt now on would be : 4-5-1 (4-3-3) Best Player in Position.

    ————— Gameiro —————-

    Carrasco —————Griezmann

    —————— Koke ——————–

    ———-Tiago———Gabi————

    Filipe L ——————–Juanfran

    ———-Godin——-Gimenez——-

    ——————-Oblak——————–

    The Offensive Formation : 4-2-3-1 (4-1-3-2)
    My Preferred Formation

    —————-Gameiro—————–

    Carrasco -Griezmann- Gaitan

    ————Koke—————————-
    ————————-Gabi—————-

    Filipe L ——————– Juanfran

    ———-Godin——–Savic———–

    ——————Oblak——————–

    Notes :
    Gameiro needs to improve his finishing.
    Torres needs to seek headed goals
    Correa needs to learn how to tackle and pass better
    Carrasco needs to pass when others are in better goal scoring position
    Gaitan needs to work on defensive aggresiveness and integration
    Koke needs to rework the setpiece crosses and moves
    Gabi needs to be rotated every 4 or 5 games
    Saul needs to get more involve defensively or offensively and acquire passing ability
    Tiago needs to come on in important games
    Augusto needs to be Tiago’s understudy
    Thomas just need more playing time
    Filipe needs to be rotated every 8 or 9 games
    Juanfran too
    Vrsaljko needs to replace them when needed
    Lucas too as with central defence
    Savic drastically have to improve acceleration to avoid getting caught out by quicker forwards
    And Oblak needs to start owning and Mastering penalties.

  • [email protected]@AaX

    And also Gimenez needs to feature as much as Savic does in specific matches that suited his ability and temperament like against real madrid or bayern. He also needs to be more precise and less rash in tackles.

    On whole the team needs more work on their setpieces and the quality of the central attacking movements and the Final Ball.