Atlético Madrid carried out the sneakiest of smash-and-grab shows in a while as they emerged from Villarreal’s Estadio de la Cerámica with a degree, regardless of being bossed everywhere in the pitch from begin to end.
A surprise objective from Ángel Correa and a uncommon strike from Geoffrey Kondogbia had been sufficient, with objectives from Pau Torres and Alberto Moreno in between the 2 giving Villarreal a commanding place.
Listed here are three things learned from Sunday night time’s encounter on the east coast:
Jan Oblak simply isn’t at his finest…
For Atlético, and Jan Oblak particularly, to have the worst efficiency in comparison with anticipated objectives conceded is completely astounding.
If you happen to stated that even six months in the past, no person would consider you. However it’s true. With a 17.48 xG in opposition to and 24 objectives conceded, solely bottom-placed Levante have a bigger distinction of objectives allowed relative to xG in opposition to.
For years, Atlético have relied on Oblak to save lots of them time and time once more, to defy the percentages and stop almost-certain objectives. Now, he’s turning into a legal responsibility, making repeated errors that haven’t been seen between the sticks at Atleti for years.
After he denied Gerard Moreno from the penalty spot, Oblak fumbled a Dani Parejo free kick in entrance of him contained in the six-yard field, permitting Villarreal to degree the scores. The second objective didn’t cowl him in glory both, as Alberto Moreno’s shot snuck below his outstretched leg and bounced into the online.
The Slovenian appears to be like shaky for the primary time in a very long time, and with solely 4 saves made in his final 5 appearances (conceding eight objectives), it’s clear that he’s removed from his finest.
The choice to present Oblak the nod within the Copa del Rey, retaining Benjamin Lecomte on the bench, has made it clear that he’s not below nice stress for the primary jersey. Whether or not Simeone decides to combine things up in cup competitions, with the Supercopa and extra Copa del Rey motion within the subsequent few weeks, will present if he feels Oblak wants an actual problem.
…and it’s clear to see why
Atlético reek of insecurity and uncertainty, with no participant wanting comfy or assured of their place. This facet is looking out regularly for an identification, as Simeone made extra adjustments Sunday after returning to the 4-4-2 form to start 2022.
There isn’t a higher instance than in central defence. It’s clear neither Felipe nor Mario Hermoso can be first-choice, and each mixed to supply the type of disasterclass Atleti followers feared when wanting on the team-sheet. Each defenders have been dramatically out of shape this season, and once more seemed to be virtually full strangers on the pitch.
A transparent lack of communication mixed with ageing Felipe’s lack of tempo and poor positioning made it straightforward for Villarreal’s gamers to roam across the closing third. Alberto Moreno was in a position to tear aside the Atleti defence with a easy run, as the previous Liverpool man did for his go-ahead objective.
Atlético insist that they won’t pursue a central defender on this transfer window, which is really baffling. Josema Giménez was suspended for this one, however has been injury-prone all season, very similar to Stefan Savić. Kieran Trippier’s departure solely provides to the sensation of uncertainty within the defensive third.
What’s tough for Atlético is that this sense of uncertainty is one which has festered for months — actually, since October, when Atleti had been first struggling by dropping factors with an absence of fluidity in assault. Now, the main target has shifted to defensive points, however Simeone appears not sure the right way to repair it.
Till the squad points are addressed, he might not have the ability to.
Some extent robbed
Atlético’s two objectives in opposition to Villarreal got here from an xG of 0.04. For each these possibilities to have ended up with objectives is, fairly frankly, a miracle.
Very similar to the reverse fixture in August, when Gerónimo Rulli and Aïssa Mandi had been on fully completely different wavelengths within the closing minute, Atlético took a 2-2 draw and a degree from Villarreal regardless of not deserving it.
Scoring with such possibilities is exceptional, and Ángel Correa once more deserves plaudits. He’s taking part in with the type of confidence the remainder of the ahead choices are missing, and that may be the one clarification behind trying a 45-yard shot on objective over Rulli.
Kondogbia was doing a lot of the midfield work with Rodrigo De Paul, Thomas Lemar and Yannick Carrasco all off the tempo. The midfield battle was nicely and actually misplaced, however a lot of the great work got here from the France-born pivot. He gained eight duels, in comparison with simply two from De Paul and none from his substitute alternative, Koke.
Unai Emery’s facet dominated in each respect, with 60 % possession, 1.93 xG greater than Atlético accrued, and full territorial domination for a lot of the sport. It was no shock Atlético dropped extra factors from a successful place, taking that statistic to 12 factors misplaced from a number one place this season (in comparison with six from all of 2020/21). Very similar to Oblak’s stats, solely bottom-placed Levante have worse figures.
Atleti can take a optimistic from this tie, which is when all the things suggests they need to have launched into a bus again to Madrid empty-handed, they left Vila-real with a degree. However that’s removed from what followers had been hoping for and dreaming about when the marketing campaign began with speak of a title defence.