The post that repelled the penalty that Elche had in the last sighed avoided another stick for Atlético. The draw would have done a lot of damage to Simeone and his players, who came from the blow of the last-minute defeat in San Mamés. Also his performance in the second half. Speculating with Llorente’s goal tarnished his authoritarian first half. This time, the mentality and football pájara occurred in the second act. And he was able to afford it.
Playing more in the opposite field than in their own, Atlético took off with an ambitious match at the beginning, away from the pachonas first parts that have condemned them so much lately. He dispatched Elche in the first half hour with an exercise of authority, this time, typical of a leader and contender for the title. At that time he barely left Elche two puffs, which expressed the main difference that separates him from Almirón’s stage. If the Argentine coach tried to defend himself with the ball with long horizontal circulations, Escribá takes refuge in the defense of spaces, more bearable near his area than the opposite. That Lucas Boyé had few options to deal with Savic and Giménez reflected the low strength of the local team.
So Atlético found itself forced to enter someone else’s territory. With a facelift in the center of the field, without Koke, Herrera and Saúl regarding the shipwreck of San Mamés. A decision that mixed rotations looking at the Camp Nou game and some dissatisfaction with what was offered in Bilbao. With Kondogbia as anchor, another look at the decisive event in Barcelona, and Llorente and Lemar as flyers. In the opposite territory, Atlético grew the logic of all the knowledge that Luis Suárez has of playing with and without the ball. Or that Carrasco, finer in one against one, does real damage. He even had indoor soccer games, which near the area could be defined as indoor soccer on a large field. Like a ball from Mario Hermoso that Luis Suárez let pass under his legs so that Correa could return it to him on the heel. He chose the Uruguayan wrong when Gazzaniga offered him a comfortable cross shot on his way out and opted for the stick that covered the Argentine goal. If that play was born in Hermoso, another exquisite came out of Savic’s boots. One of the thermometers of the best version that he offered this season was the Montenegrin center-back participating in the start of the attack game or in the continuity playing sixty meters from Oblak. Savic crossed the line in the middle of the field while driving and filtered a pass to the breaker Llorente. Luis Suárez riveted the low center of the steering wheel, but the VAR determined that the Uruguayan was half an inch ahead of the position of the ball. It was a matter of time before Atlético scored. The goal came after a raid by Carrasco to the bottom line. A classic that took Tete Morente ahead with the dance to which the Belgian invited him. The center back was picked up by Llorente and his shot made a carom with Josema.
Atlético was about to be measured by how it managed its advantage on the scoreboard now that there is no longer any margin for error. And the answer was soulless. It was diluted, with little more than a penalty for alleged hands of an Elche defender that the referee canceled after consultation on the screen.
Message to message from Simeone, the leader shrunk. First with a tepid start in the second half in which the exchange of cards between Lemar and João Félix can be included. Later, renouncing the pressure with which he had subjected Elche in the first half hour. The exchange of Koke for Correa was already the blatant sign that Atlético wanted to know little about the team that had been in the first third of the match. His retreat gave Elche the kind of game that could ease him. No spark in the ball circuits, despite the entry of Piatti, the dominance that his rival gave him to generate corners and side fouls. Barragán, with ten minutes to go, hit a ball badly that fell straight to him and went over Oblak’s goal. The entry of Saúl by Luis Suárez was the last sign of how Simeone tried to close the game. From Trippier’s hands came the lateral foul that Marcos Llorente defended with an arm on the fly. There was a minute left and the League began to escape Atlético. Fidel adjusted the shot to Oblak’s right and the stick prevented it from being another whip for the leader.