R I V A L S W A T C H
Atlético de Madrid
T A C T I C S
It was roughly one month ago that we last faced Atleti, a league clash at the Wanda won by Barcelona thanks to the saves from Ter Stegen, ineligible tomorrow, and the 86th-minute winner from Messi. Has much changed since?
For us, not much, but Atlético’s results have slightly improved, as usual in this stage of the season for Simeone’s men. They have 4 wins and 1 draw since and, while at the back they continue to concede very few goals with a stellar Oblak, now they also create more chances upfront. They are a bit more balanced.
Let’s take a look at our previous meeting, back in December. That Atleti was in its least ‘Cholistic’ form, wanting possession, pressing high and causing us many problems in the first half by not allowing our interiors to turn around and by aiming at Junior Firpo. In that occasion, Saúl was the left-back and, while Renan Lodi is expected to start tomorrow, the predominant flank in Atlético was the right one.
As Ángel Correa positioned himself between Lenglet and Junior, and Trippier stayed high, they created a 2v1 against Firpo when Griezmann didn’t track back. They exploited Junior’s insecurity, though Jordi Alba is much more determined and experienced and will be starting on Thursday. Some more keys were Herrera’s involvement in the first stage of build-up, as he was never pressed by Barcelona’s midfield, Morata constantly putting pressure on Lenglet and Felipe’s brilliant anticipation to Suárez and his expertise to cover Trippier’s back.
For this upcoming fixture, Simeone may choose to not risk Koke, who is just returning from an injury, and select this XI:
Trippier · Felipe · Giménez · Renan Lodi
Correa · Herrera · Thomas · Saúl
Morata · João Félix
P L A Y E R T O W A T C H
On the verge of a move to Milan in the summer, he now is the Atlético player who has been involved in the most goals in La Liga this season: 3 goals and 5 assists. He’s performing far better than João Félix and adds a lot of dynamism to an attack that often lacks a tangible link between the midfield and the forward line.
The other one to watch, or to beat, obviously is Oblak.