“Relax, the goal is going to come”, was the slogan with which Diego Pablo Simeone closed the group formed during the obligatory break for the hydration of the second half of Atlético-Osasuna. The Argentine coach and the captain, Koke, had protested the interruption as unnecessary given the pleasant temperature that accompanied the dramatic end that was outlined with the goal of Budimir and Nacho in Bilbao. Atlético did not want to lose rhythm due to the break agreed, according to the regulations, by the referee and the delegates in the meeting prior to the match. At that time, the score (0-1) of the Wanda Metropolitano and that of San Mamés buried a large part of Atlético’s chances of retaining the leadership and appearing on the last day in Valladolid depending on itself to win the League.
Simeone’s flight hours as a player accustomed to dealing with moments of maximum demand provided the most convenient thing a coach can do in such an extreme situation: ask his players for calm and head. “We did not have our heads on the scoreboard, we tried to concentrate, we only needed the goal,” said the Brazilian central Felipe.
The break (m. 76) for the refreshment barely lasted a long minute, but unleashed an epic comeback from the leader under the premise of not incurring in the precipitation. Atlético was deployed with a touched and precise football with which it has been little related in the Simeone era. He made 11 plays to score two goals in that time frame (2-1). As the coach explained at the end of the match, it was about not limiting the attack to simple crosses to the area. “It was the way to be able to lock up a team that defended itself very well,” Simeone clarified. By the time the 88th minute was about to be completed, Luis Suárez completed the feat. Twelve minutes played with championships that can be worth a League and left details that illustrated the pulse with which Atlético handled the wire.
The tying goal was born from a circulation of 15 touches that went from the middle to the right, from the right to the middle, and from there to the left, where Lodi broke to collect the precise and elegant pass from João Félix. A Trippier balloon on the side of the area skipping a player from Osasuna to make a wall with Oblak and go out playing 1-1 on the scoreboard is another glaring example of the measure with which the rojiblancos managed those 12 minutes.
There was more frenzy due to the urgency and anguish of having to turn the scoreboard than because Atlético went on the attack in desperation. The 23 touches that preceded Suárez’s goal with the ball traveling from left to right also reflected the doses of serenity with which Simeone’s footballers faced the undertaking of having to score two goals in less than a quarter of an hour. The play began with a serve with the hand of Oblak and with the vertigo of Lodi driving to break lines and approach Herrera’s area as soon as possible. When the Brazilian could no longer advance, he braked and played backwards for Koke. The captain combined with Luis Suárez and the Uruguayan ended up tilting the play to the right before going to the area to choose a place to receive a possible pass. Carrasco put it on his foot to reinforce the slogan that Simeone had worried about launching in the previous match to spur the Uruguayan and end his five-game drought without scoring. “We entered the Suarez zone,” El Cholo spread on Saturday with the phlegm with which it seems that he does not say anything and means everything.
Under maximum pressure, a team emerged temperate to elaborate and intense to recover the ball and win individual duels that limited Osasuna to a simple cross into the area that Savic cleared. Eleven individual duels in the fight for the ball were won by Simeone’s footballers to mark the rival’s territory and blunt it.
The triumph and how it was achieved reinforced the team concept that Simeone preaches so much. “This is a team, from those who participate from the beginning to those who come off the bench. I’m happy for Lodi, he has made us all stand up with his goal ”, confessed an effusive Mario Hermoso. “I feel a lot of emotion, there is no greater reflection of who we are. I get goose bumps when people kept pressing from outside the stadium after Osasuna scored. You cannot escape this League, it is a job of the whole season ”, claimed Hermoso.
The management of Simeone’s game with the changes he made were decisive for Atlético to complete the comeback. He first relieved Hermoso and Saúl to enter Lodi and João Félix after 65 minutes of play. With Osasuna in the back, he retired the center-back, who was acting as a left back, to gain depth and speed with Lodi. The winger, who was surprised at the far post by Budimir in Osasuna’s goal, scored the tying goal and started the play of the second goal with a powerful run. João Félix was fine and selective to take action. He paused the attack in the last meters and was uncovered with an excellent pass to Lodi.
The second set of changes occurred shortly after the hydration break. In the 80th minute, Simeone sat down the exhausted Marcos Llorente and Correa to give entry to Herrera and Démbélé. The Argentine coach sought temper with the Mexican and shot and unchecked the space of the French striker. To that double change he added a movement that ended up being definitive. He took Carrasco from the left wing to leave the entire lane to Lodi and moved him to the right to go deeper with Trippier. Between the two they gave the last touches that preceded Súarez’s goal