3 things we learned from Atlético’s Champions League defeat to Milan

Atlético Madrid fell to defeat in a must-win fixture in opposition to AC Milan on Wednesday night time, because the Colchoneros conceded an 87th-minute winner to Junior Messias. The header that struck Atleti followers’ hearts was the deadly blow making certain Atleti didn’t take any factors from a recreation greatest described as a “catalogue of errors.”

There will be no denying it: this was Atlético Madrid’s worst efficiency but this season. Defeat to Liverpool at Anfield comes a detailed second, with a extra humiliating scoreline, however was extra anticipated than this defeat at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

Right here, we’ll pick three things that we can take away from the tie.

A scarcity of belief in Atlético’s offensive choices

With João Félix out injured, Atlético’s attacking choices are extra restricted than beforehand, and Diego Simeone’s rotation choices have been reduce. Besides, he persists with Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann whereas leaving Ángel Correa and Matheus Cunha on the bench.

Correa hasn’t performed a full 90 minutes since September 28 (within the return fixture in opposition to AC Milan), whereas Cunha has solely performed greater than half-hour in a single recreation as soon as, in opposition to Alavés on September 25.

Once more on Wednesday night, Correa was given 26 minutes and Cunha 13 to make an influence. Such restricted time to carry out displays Simeone’s lack of perception within the options.

Quite than setting them up to are available in earlier, Simeone opts to change programs to carry Yannick Carrasco additional ahead, fairly than introduce Cunha earlier into his more-natural left-sided function.

The person who finally ends up paying for that greater than another is Suárez. With solely two touches in Milan’s penalty space, contributing to a workforce complete of 14 (the second-lowest determine this season behind defeat at Anfield), Suárez endured one other disappointing night on Wednesday. Milan goalkeeper Ciprian Tătăruşanu made extra passes than Suárez (the shotstopper’s 20 in contrast to Suárez’s 18) and the Uruguayan’s passing accuracy was the bottom of any Atlético participant on the night time at simply 72 %.

Suárez has performed 70 % of minutes this season and has performed an element in each recreation, whereas additionally making 5 appearances for Uruguay. For a 34-year-old, that’s a fairly demanding schedule which is barely made extra baffling when you think about the options being ignored.

In the summertime, it was much-discussed that Atlético failed to herald a further quantity 9. Now, they’re paying the results.

Diego Simeone received this one incorrect

Even after Atlético started to implement extra adjustments and substitutions got here into play from the fifty fifth minute onward, Milan remained the more-threatening workforce for a lot of the ultimate 39 minutes (together with damage time). That could be a horrific determine for any coach, and even much less so for one as skilled as Simeone.

The plan went incorrect from the beginning, with Marcos Llorente’s choice at wing-back. Not too long ago again from damage, and up in opposition to Milan’s harmful left flank, this wasn’t the type of job Llorente would have been hoping for as he stepped up his restoration. Theo Hernández, hated amongst Atlético followers over how he left to be a part of rivals Real Madrid in 2017, offered overlapping choices that frequently pegged Llorente again. The place his recreation revolves round tempo and dynamism, he was too disciplined on this place to have the opportunity to capitalise.


Atletico Madrid v AC Milan: Group B - UEFA Champions League

Picture by Rubén de la Fuente Pérez/NurPhoto by way of Getty Pictures

The extra adjustments Cholo made within the second half, the extra it appeared Atlético’s recreation plan was improvised. Within the house of simply 17 minutes, Atlético modified form and formation 3 times. It was no shock that there was a scarcity of fluidity consequently. With 165 unsuccessful passes and 45 possession losses in their very own half, the best figures for each stats this season, Atleti merely couldn’t keep any rhythm and have been committing primary errors. Because the strain constructed, the more severe they carried out as the sport wore on.

“We want to be sturdy and take the sport to the place we can do them harm,” Simeone had stated earlier than the match. But, his choice and adjustments made that job harder.

Koke is way from his greatest

Atlético missed their captain whereas he was injured in September, and the aspect’s continued troubles come from the truth that Atlético are nonetheless ready to get better Koke at his greatest. His show in opposition to Milan was his worst but this season — 17 incomplete passes and 22 possession losses, eight in his personal half, have been his three worst figures for the season to date. And all of them left Atlético weak up in opposition to Milan.

The Italians bossed the midfield. Franck Kessié and Sandro Tonali introduced an vitality and physicality that left Koke, and sometimes Rodrigo De Paul, sprawling. Their reference to Rade Krunić, Brahim Díaz and Alexis Saelemaekers saved the ball transferring rapidly and freely. They utterly bypassed the Atleti midfield duo.

Simeone sought to rejig the midfield frequently. Šime Vrsaljko got here on to enable Marcos Llorente to step up alongside him following De Paul’s withdrawal. Then Geoffrey Kondogbia got here on for Antoine Griezmann. It was evident that Simeone wasn’t anticipating this drawback to be fairly so essential to deciding the tie, and he was clearly anticipating extra from his captain on such a vital night time for the membership.

With such midfield disruption, it helps to perceive the defensive calamities that led to Junior Messias’s late winner. It was the fifth consecutive purpose Atleti have conceded from a cross, and the positioning of the central defenders, particularly José María Giménez, allowed him in. With Koke and Llorente dragged to the correct to strive to shut down the counter and Kondogbia off the tempo, there was nobody monitoring the runner. Messias slipped between the defenders simply.

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