Pucela sunk by slick Atleti
Saturday December 5th, 2020
Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
ATLÉTICO MADRID 2
Thomas Lemar 56’
Marcos Llorente 72’
REAL VALLADOLID 0
Pucela travelled to Madrid to take on Atleti, with history and an opponent in scintillating form wirghing heavy on their chances of success. Ultimately, the hosts depth proved to be the factor which separated the sides as an improved second half saw Diego Simeone’s men emerge victorious.
Having not won against Atlético Madrid since their double truiumph of the 2008/09 season, Sergio faced a tall order against a team who were revelling in a 21-game unbeaten streak at home which stretched back more than 12 months. His formation was surprisingly adventurous as he opted for a 4-2-3-1 look. Javi Sánchez returned to the starting eleven in defence to partner Bruno, with Pablo Hervías reprising his role as a forward-thinking right-back. The manager handed first starts to his newest aqcuisitions Roque Mesa – who formed half of a two-man pivot with Rubén Alcaraz – and Portuguese winger Jota, while Kike Pérez started for the first time since Matchday 7.
Atleti had rested some players as this match was sandwiched between two Champions League ties and had a wealth of talent on the bench such Portuguese wonderkid João Félix, Marcos Llorente, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Koke and Lucas Torreira, but still boasted a formidable starting eleven.
In the first 45 minutes Real Valladolid controlled the ball very well, looking comfortable in possession. They limited Atleti to very few chances and the frustration creeping into the hosts became evident as the half progressed. From an attacking standpoint, Pucela were limited to a series of long shots, all of wich failed to test a goalkeeper of Jan Oblak’s standard.
In the second half, it was a different story. Llorente was introduced to the action by Diego Simeone, however it was Real Valladolid who created the first chance of the second period. Jota clipped the ball in cleverly from the edge of the box to find André arriving at the back post and he hit a side-footed volley, but it was blocked by English right-back Kieran Trippier.
The arrival of Llorente paved the way for the hosts to make the breakthrough, but it came from an unlikely source. Trippier scampered down the right flank and sent a teasing ball across the face of goal which looked like it was going to be turned in by Suárez who was sliding in outstretched. Masip covered the line well but anticipated the touch from Suárez and went to ground, but the ball evaded the Uruguayan and Thomas Lemar – who had ghosted in from the left, leaving Pablo Hervías in his wake – was on hand at the back post to crash the ball home for his first goal since April 2019.
The incredible depth of the Atlético bench became apparent as Simeone was able to sacrifice Saúl and Ángel Correa and replace them with João Félix and Koke.
However, Sergio’s response to going a goal down was far from passive and he made several positive alterations. He switched to 4-4-2 to give room for another striker and added Shon Weissman in place of Kike Pérez, as well as switching Óscar Plano to the left and taking on Toni Villa for Jota.
On 72 minutes, Atlético doubled their lead and it was Trippier who was involved again in a man-of-the-match performance from the former Tottenham man. Oblak’s long clearance to the right hand touchine was won by Trippier who outjumped Nacho on the halfway line and his header fell into the patch of Llorente who stormed forward and beat Sánchez for pace before finishing calmy past Masip.
Immediately after the goal, Sergio began to close the door to prevent any further damage as it looked like the game was now beyond reach. Hervías made way for Janko and Nacho was replaced by Míchel.
The match finished 2-0 to the hosts but there are plenty of positives to take away from the encounter. Overall, it was a positive performance and it shows that Pucela can hold the ball well when needed to, and stifle the opposition chances. There seemed to be a good understanding among the starting eleven and this is not something that has been evident every week. Defensively, Real Valladolid looked relatively sound too; there were no soft chances given away and Atlético were made to work for both their goals. It simply came down to quality.
Now, Pucela must ready themselves for a crunch match at home to Osasuna, while Atleti have a busy week ahead of them; firstly travelling to Salzburg in the Champions League before playing cross-town rivals Real Madrid in the first of their derby meetings.
ATLÉTICO MADRID (3-4-2-1): Jan Oblak (Capt.); Mario Hermoso, Felipe, Stefan Savic, Vitolo (Marcos Llorente 46’), Saúl (João Féliz 57’), Héctor Herrera, Kieran Trippier, Thomas Lemar (Lucas Torreira 77’), Ángel Correa (Koke 57’), Luis Suárez (Geoffrey Kondogbia 63’).
Subs unused: Ivo Grbić, Miguel San Román; Ricard Sánchez, Toni Moya, Juan Sanabria, Ivan Šaponjić.
REAL VALLADOLID (4-2-3-1): Jordi Masip (Capt.); Nacho (Míchel 73’), Bruno, Javi Sánchez (Jawad El Yamiq 81’), Pablo Hervías (Saidy Janko 73’), Rubén Alcaraz, Roque Mesa, Jota (Toni Villa 62’), Kike Pérez (Shon Weissman 62’), Óscar Plano, Marcos André.
Subs unused: Roberto; Luis Pérez, Raúl García, Kike Pérez, Roque Mesa, Toni Villa, Míchel, Shon Weissman, Waldo.