Atlético Madrid – Real Sociedad: Herrera Own-Goal Saves Sociedad’s Season (1-1)
It was all lining up to be a vintage Atlético Madrid performance. Simeone’s side had scored in the first half and confidently took place in their characteristic defensive block. The collective frustration of so many previously exasperated managers painted across the face of Imanol Alguacil, as his side tried fruitlessly to salvage a point. That is until the 87th minute, when a seemingly innocuous free kick, carrying with it the visitor’s European hopes, deflected off Héctor Herrera into the back of the net.
Tactical analysis and match report by K.T. Stockwell.
Atlético’s transformation coming out of the coronavirus break has been profound. Simeone took the time off to reassess his side and begin the process of more fluidly bedding in his innumerable summer transfers. The reallocation of Marcos Llorente to the forward position and the new central role for young phenom João Félix were his two most profound adjustments, the confluence of which helped guide Atléti into a third place finish and another season of Champions League football.
With nothing but pride to play for, Simeone made several changes to his starting eleven: bringing in Álvaro Morata to play alongside Diego Costa as a striker duo in his typical 4-4-2 formation. Vitolo, Thomas Partey and Herrera were also handed starts in midfield, while Stefan Savić drew in for José Giménez in central defense.
The dichotomy between the pre and post-coronavirus break versions of Real Sociedad has been stark. Alguacil’s side has struggled to re-establish the brand of dynamic, offensive football that made them the neutral . . .