The second day of the Champions League stood out for the maximum interventionism of some coaches in decisive moments of the matches. In particular, four cases stand out and three of them have the technicians of Atlético, Real Madrid and Barcelona as protagonists. The fourth coach who put the scalpel in his team was Mauricio Pocchettino, who with his variants for the occasion deactivated, in part, the offensive volume of Guardiola’s City.
Atlético ends with seven ‘forwards’
Adjusting to the final comeback and the considerable mutation of the team after an erratic first half, it can be seen that all the maneuvers he tackled to turn the result around Simeone turned out well. In return, he put all his offensive arsenal on the green of San Siro, which is a lot, and he distributed it with common sense. Only Cunha was left on the bench. True to his philosophy of ‘revolving doors’ (constant rotation of the positioning of his players) he successively brought in Joao Félix (first half), Lodi and De Paul (rest) and Griezmann and Lemar (last half hour). Each inning brought with it a readjustment on the board and Atlético ended up playing with three forwards (Correa-Luis Suárez-Joao Félix); two midpoints (Griezmann and Lemar) and the two laterals (Llorente and Lodi) acting as wingers. Behind the imaginary line of the ball a midfielder (De Paul) and the two centrals (Felipe and Giménez).
The four changes of Madrid
A minute after Benzema’s equalizing goal, in 65, the Italian coach suddenly consumed the four goals he had previously prepared. Unusual situation at Real Madrid and a mess in the new occupation of the spaces. Valverde, who until then had played inside right, went to winger in that band. Camavinga, who had occupied the ’10’ lane until then, became a left-handed side.
Kroos and Modric, just entered, divided the width of the field as so many times and ahead of them, Rodrygo and Vinicius tried to give the team the necessary amplitude that the moment required, while Jovic positioned himself in front of a Benzema whom the Sheriff he knew how to lock up throughout the game. Too much meat for so little broth. Valverde collided with Rodrygo on the right and Camavinga did not know whether to join his centrals (Militao and Alaba) or lend a hand to his midfielders (Kroos-Modric). The positional disarray did not prevent the creation of half a dozen scoring chances, but neither did they concede a couple of them and that one became a goal, due to the poor collective positioning in a throw-in against.
Barça, from attacking one area to defending the other
In the stadium of La Luz, Ronald Koeman was faithful to his thoughts. He had already proclaimed not having a team to play in the Champions League and against Benfica he prepared the same timorous approach as against Bayern, with the forced and significant change of Dest, to a changed band, for the injured Alba. In the League, the Dutch coach pulls the 1-4-3-3, which his president likes so much, with the variant of the match against Levante that adjusted almost more to a 1-4-2-3-1. In Europe, he rescues his 1-3-5-2, on which he feels more secure in the defensive aspect.
What was not in his script is that the team was so vulnerable in the containment facet and had to move pieces on the fly. The game smelled of tragedy. First, after Eric García’s declaration of impotence against Darwin in the first Portuguese goal, he changed sides and placed Araujo near the area of influence of his compatriot and immediately afterwards sent the third center-back, Piqué, to the shower. the referee had already forgiven him a second card and, furthermore, because he was late for all the divided balls.
In this maneuver, Koeman did not use any of the three center-backs he had on the bench: Umtiti, Lenglet and Mingueza, but delayed Frenki De Jong who, until that moment, from his interior position, almost half forward, had been the only player who had been able to interpret how to attack the spaces left behind by the other three-man defense, Benfica’s. From stepping on the rival area with great danger, to being the man in charge of getting the ball played from close to his own.
The PSG ‘transforms’ to Verratti
Slate duel at PSG- Manchester City. Or what is the same Pocchettino against Guardiola. The Argentine coach invented a new position for Verratti, who had not played for more than a month due to a knee injury. The operation had its risk. The Italian had not played as a positional midfielder in front of his defense for many years, with two interiors at his sides: Ander Herrera and Gueye, who in addition to scoring a goal, brought out his wide repertoire of ‘all-field player’, in the purest Kanté style.
As a central axis, Verratti faced each other with De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, who pressed him without fainting, but came out unscathed, with his game at the first touch and his driving with the ball. Guardiola, after the game, took off his hat. “Marco is an exceptional, extraordinary player. I’m in love with him. Under pressure he is able to give an extra touch of the ball behind our midfield. He is not a great player (1.65) but when you see how he plays, how he moves… It is not about long passes, but he knows where the space is to create a new situation ”.