Last Saturday, in Mendizorroza, the gestures and indications of Diego Pablo Simeone while the first defeat for Atlético was being forged so far this year were not very different from those of previous meetings. The Argentine coach was teasing his hair with a rhythm close to despair, he cursed looking at the bench and turned to the field to ask his offensive players for more clearance and greater ball circulation. Nothing worked.
After conceding a goal in the fourth minute, Atlético was only able to register a shot between Pacheco’s three sticks. It was Ángel Correa, who will appear this Tuesday at the crucial Milan duel (9:00 p.m., Movistar Champions League), as the most fit forward of Simeone’s extensive roster. The draw with Porto (0-0) at the Wanda Metropolitano has made the event momentous for Atlético, which has scored nine goals in eight games, less than half (17) than the previous season at this point.
The statistics are alarming for a cast of attackers who expected greater activity and scoring production. The rojiblancos forwards kick little, highly conditioned by the lack of football exhibited in recent games. The hopeful match against Villarreal (2-2), prior to the national team break, has led to an offensive jam on the return from the international break. The desired Antoine Griezmann has not appeared, who in four games has not registered a shot on goal. His average total shots (1.5) is lower than he had in Barcelona (2). João Félix and Cunha have not added a shot on goal either. The previous season, the Portuguese had an average of 1.3 shots per game and the Brazilian at Hertha in Berlin went up to 2.5, and at Atlético it remains at 0.4. Only Ángel Correa (three goals) and Carrasco (somewhat) have increased their number of shots compared to the 20-21 exercise. The Argentine has gone from 1.3 shots to 1.8, and the Belgian, from 1.2 to 1.7.
Nothing better reflects the absence of a geared game that produces a wealth of scoring chances than Luis Suárez’s numbers. From one season to another, the Uruguayan striker has cut his average total shots in half, from 3 to 1.5. Their figures for shots on goal per game also dropped slightly, from 1.3 to 0.7. All in all, Suárez has added three goals.
Atlético has a hard time attacking against teams that are armored and waiting for them in their area. Simeone believes he has found the reason and points to the need for a new formula given the feeling that rivals now play him differently. “In several games, the rival has tried to take away spaces so that we have to propose more games with possession of the ball,” the coach warned on Tuesday. In the Simeone era, this has been a common problem in most of the nine seasons that the Argentine has been sitting on the rojiblanco bench. His Atlético has attacked better by running into spaces than having to open them with circulations of the ball.
“The best game was against Villarreal, who also took refuge to take advantage of the spaces we left. Against Athletic, a very good game was played and we must grow along that line. We come from a season in which many situations that were generated now are already known to us and work as a consequence of our virtues. We have to evolve and look for other surprising paths ”, added the rojiblanco coach. Since the march of the old guard with which he achieved his first successes, Simeone has not stopped uttering his idea of inventing and inventing himself. The term became very relevant after the 2016 Champions League final, played on the same stage tonight. After the loss in the penalty shootout against Real Madrid, with the defeat still burning inside him, Cholo dropped in the press room that he needed time to think about whether he would remain at the club. A whirlwind trip to Buenos Aires by Miguel Ángel Gil Marín, the club’s main shareholder, and the sports director, Andrea Berta, to offer the coach a substantial contract upgrade and guarantee that the club would not give up its efforts to improve the squad, they convinced Simeone. Five years later, the coach manages the most ambitious squad he has ever had, but he sees the need to give the team that was proclaimed League champion four months ago a turnaround in attack.
“The solution also involves being ourselves, maintaining the aggressiveness that has always made us very competitive and in the areas, beyond the positioning, the pressure we make, or how you overcome the lines, there are the differences and there you have to increase aggressiveness, “concluded Cholo.
The offensive reconstruction of Paolo Maldini and Pioli
The last time Milan played a Champions League match at the San Siro was against Atlético in the knockout stages of 2014 (0-1). At that time, it was a society that tried to rebuild itself in the twilight phase of Silvio Berlusconi’s patronage by appealing to the old glories. Clarence Seedorf was on the bench and Kaká had been recalled from his gray spell at Real Madrid. Seven years later, the club is chaired by Paolo Scaroni, a supposed Berlusconi henchman who is frowned upon by the club’s ownership, the American investment fund Elliot Management.
A key figure in this new Milan is Paolo Maldini, who acts as technical director and last Saturday saw his son Daniel, an attacking midfielder, play for the first time as a starter and scored a goal against Spezia. Maldini was decisive two summers ago to keep Stefano Pioli on the bench when everything indicated that the position would go to the German Ralph Rangnick, ideologist of the talent recruitment factory set up by the multinational Red Bull in Leipzig and Salzburg.
Under the leadership of Pioli, Milan has hung the label of being the most offensive team in Italy with a mix of veterans led by Ibrahimovic, today out due to injury, and a batch of promising footballers in which Brahim Díaz and Theo Hernández stand out. . “Being a young team is an added value. We will always put energy and enthusiasm ”. A Brahim Díaz, on loan from Real Madrid Pioli has given him ten. After Calhanoglu’s departure to Inter, Brahim has emerged as the offensive leader, with four goals and one assist, of a team with a desire to play as long as possible in the rival field. “The youngsters who give the level play in Spain and in Italy. I have that personality and I like to have that leadership, but without the team one cannot do what I am doing, “the attacker from Madrid said yesterday at a press conference.
The figure of Theo Hernández continues to foster debates in Italy about his defensive capacity. “He is improving on defense. The last game made it spectacular. I think it was one of their best matches between attack and defense. He is in an excellent moment, he has improved a lot ”, defends Pioli. The Brazilian Leão and the Belgian Saelemaekers, are the other two offensive talents who, together with Brahim Díaz, play behind the nine in a 4-2-3-1 system. Leão is a tall winger who at Milan expect a definitive explosion in terms of regularity due to the technical level and the capacity for unbalance that he exhibits. Saelemaekers was a whim of the Croatian Boban in his days as the club’s sporting director. He is a winger who has gone the other way after starting his career as a winger. Without Ibrahimovic, the place of the nine that will be measured at Atlético is disputed by the Frenchman Oliver Giroud and the crota Ante Rebic.