Our defence: dramatic. The main problem of our backline is that it isn’t even a line. It is completely disorganised, with huge gaps between two centre-backs that are too far away from each other, and a clear inability to control the intermediate zones between the defence and midfield. As good as we were offensively, all our efforts were worthless given our evident fragility.
All 3 goals conceded came through the central axis. We lost the ball in dangerous areas, but our defence then did the rest as the centre-backs were too exposed and uncoordinated, and opened up passing lanes for the Rojiblancos’ counterattacks. Atlético saw a door open in the final minutes and they damaged our fragile morale and structure.
We could blame several individuals. Sergi Roberto’s lack of some defensive concepts a full-back must always possess (such as when to come inside to cover a teammate’s move), Piqué rushing too much to the ball possessor and forgetting about the space left behind, Umtiti’s poor physical shape, Neto, who could have done better…However, to my mind the problem is mostly collective.
You have to question whether we took unnecessary risks when we were leading by 2–1. And by this I do not mean to say that we should have been less offensive – no, not at all. Nonetheless, the full-backs were too high up the pitch, almost as wingers in a 5-man frontline, when the key always is to adjust one’s position depending on the specific game situation. In the 75th minute, the match became chaotic and we could have minimised risks with a better retention of possession and on-ball positioning.
What I’m afraid of is that, as we were vulnerable despite dominating and pressing well for most of the match, now Valverde may find that it’s better if we don’t press as much and defend in our own area. Still, we should continue to follow the same methods of the first 75 minutes, but look to correct what happened from then on. We were fragile even in our best day. Making mistakes is completely acceptable, but what isn’t normal is that each mistake penalises us. This could be even worse against more deadly attacks.