Atlético Madrid – Valencia: Routine Atlético win turns frantic following video-assistant referee penalty (3-2)
Diego Simeone’s excellent use of the wings allowed Atlético Madrid a strong start, but a lulling deep block let Valencia back in it. The second half was more of a boxing match, with each side trading blows until a magnificent strike nine minutes from time sealed the game.
Tactical analysis and match report by Tom Quartly.
This game between second and fifth in LaLiga saw two hard-to-beat sides pitted against each other. Twelve points behind leaders Barcelona, the robust Atlético Madrid had conceded just two goals in the last five games and, despite the continued absences of Diego Costa (suspended) and Antoine Griezmann (rested), they had managed to fend off Celta Vigo and Eibar. Manager Diego Simeone had experimented with a 4-2-3-1 formation, a rare alteration from his preferred 4-4-2 setup. This has been a positive sign from Simeone, who can often be described as a ‘one trick pony’ when it comes to tactical changes. If it isn’t broken, why fix it?
As expected Antoine Griezmann made his return to the starting eleven as did Simeone’s favoured 4-4-2 setup. Jan Oblak stayed in goal but an injury to José Giménez meant that Stefan Savić came into pair the perpetual Diego Godín. It seemed as though Saúl Ñiguez’s auxiliary role in left back versus Eibar was a one time thing, the Spaniard moving into midfield alongside Rodri, whilst Filipe Luis returned to left back.
Santiago Arias also made way for Juanfran at right back. The match-winner last time out Thomas Lemar, joined Koke on the wings . . .