Atlético goes up

Rodrigo de Paul hits the ball during Atlético-Athletic (0-0) last Saturday played at the Wanda Metropolitano. / (AFP)AFP7 via Europa Press / Europa Press

If the profile of the midfielders can define a style, in the case of Atlético it describes an evolution. During several seasons, the list of midfielders reached eight. In the same squad, Simeone had Gabi, Tiago, Augusto Fernández, Thomas, Saúl, Koke, Kranevitter and Keidi. A string of footballers with a mold to occupy the central bud. The losses of Koke and Kondogbia for the match this Tuesday against Getafe at the Alfonso Pérez (19.30, Movistar LaLiga) have put on the table the change of appearance of the rojiblanco squad. Be it Rodrigo de Paul or Héctor Herrera, or both at the same time, Simeone does not have a midfielder in a natural position. Now it has more good-footing forwards and attacking midfielders than pivots, as a reflection of the step forward undertaken by the sports management, in line with the leadership and the coach, three seasons ago.

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Simeone’s midfield has been broken at a time when the team has shown symptoms against Porto and Athletic of having problems generating chances for the lustrous forwards they have alienated. The Argentine coach, rather than seeing a game problem, stresses the need to sharpen the team in the last meters. “I have no doubt that forcefulness will make a difference. All the teams play well, they all run, they all press, they all reach the three-quarters of the field well, the end of the play is what makes the difference between one and the other ”, Simeone analyzed yesterday. Cholo is convinced that if some of the few chances his team was able to generate in the last two games had been achieved, victory would not have escaped his team.

In that rebuilding of the midfield that the rojiblanco coach is obliged to undertake, Rodrigo de Paul is called upon to sink gallons. Until the arrival of Griezmann, the Argentine midfielder was the signing with which Simeone sought to square the circle with the base of the champion team. He was looking for a senior midfielder, with a good footing and personality to support the team. Introduced little by little, already against Athletic he played from the beginning and was the best of the middle. When Marcelino balanced the bands so that his changes of orientation were not so damaging, Atlético turned towards a flatter and more predictable team. Herrera, the other footballer appointed to make the team play in the face of so much absence, has managed to stay another season at the club. It was not a signing of Simeone, but he has been convinced that at specific moments he is a profitable footballer. The coach has gained his personality, even if he plays a slower pace and risks on inside passes more than he would like. Herrera’s determination to play as he knows above whether he is correct or not is the classic rebellion that his coach does not dislike. Some of the best moments that the team offered last year were with the Mexican in command alongside Koke.

Suarez’s defense

The problem in game creation that has loomed in the last two games contrasts with the potential amassed at the top spots. “Suárez joined last with Ángel (Correa), Trippier and Lodi. Later, in the national team break, when he started to get in better shape, he had to stop due to a medical problem and now it is normal for him to take his time and do it. It is very important for the team ”, defended Simeone, who also admitted to having spoken with Griezmann to demand a better version of the one he has offered so far. “Everything I had to say about what I see and what I want for him to grow I have told him,” said the Argentine coach about the Frenchman. The loss of João Félix, due to his expulsion against Athletic, affects him in the two facets in which the champion got stuck in the last two games, the game and the goal.

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