Atlético and Liverpool played an insane and illogical match. Accidents decided everything
Atlético Madrid – Liverpool are one of the main signs of the entire group stage of the Champions League. And the tournament value added additional spice to the match. After the draw with Porto, it became very desirable for Atlético to beat Liverpool at least at home. It’s easier for the guests: they have two victories and a comfort zone that even defeat would not destroy.
surprised with the composition. Kondogbia in the central role in the center of defense, next to Felipe and Hermoso – an unexpected decision, he would not have come out there if Savic was available. Jimenez was included in the application, but before the match there was also information about the injury – apparently, he was not ready to play the entire match. Also, Llorente was not ready , who is able to close several positions at once. As a result, Trippier came out on the right , De Paul and Lemar in the center of midfield , and Koke in the supporting zone . Simeone’s attack group is constantly rotating, this time from the first minutes he released Griezmann and Felix… And a typical 3-5-2 formation, which turns the ball into 4-4-2 due to Carrasco’s hybrid position on the right flank.
With Jurgen Klopp, on the contrary, everything was predictable. Compared to the previous match (against Watford), he made only one substitution: Alison took his usual place at the goal. In the fall, Matip looks like the first choice in a pair to van Dijk, Trent and Robertson on the flanks of the defense, Milner and Keita in the semi- flanks , Henderson as a point guard (this is not the first time since the beginning of the season), and the trademark three in the attack. No surprises.
A quick goal was a surprise. The situation did not look dangerous, Salah got the ball on the edge. But that doesn’t excuse the defenders who played ugly in the episode. Salah took turns on a false swing removed Carrasco , Lemar and Koke . Strange naivety from the team that turned contact defensive football into a brand. The goal, however, was scored by a ricochet Milner , but this does not negate the poor play of the defense. And the splendor of Salah , of course. Another great goal – now he scores them on the stream.
Liverpool scored with the first shot. Before the goal, Atlético owned the ball 27% of the time and only a couple of times got out on the other side of the field. And the hosts’ reaction to the missed goal was even more surprising than the local failure in defense: the team seemed to be crumbling. In four and a half minutes between the goals of Salah and Keith, the hosts made only nine accurate passes. Terrible reaction. Liverpool played pass, won rebounds and didn’t even push hard. But he still scored again: after another unsuccessful serve, the ball flew to Keita , who was standing alone on the penalty line and powerfully shot into the near corner in touch.
At 2-0, Liverpool’s task seemed simple. Of course, there was no need to put the “bus” on and play on hold, but a certain transition of the initiative to Atlético looked natural. But this did not happen. On the contrary, Simeone did not urge the team on the edge, but tried to calm him down with gestures.
Why – it became clear pretty quickly. Let Atletico burn 0: 2, but for Simeone it was more important to stick to the plan and be able to attack in space. Liverpool’s high defensive line was the best chance for sharpness for players like Griezmann , Carrasco and De Paul . For example, in the middle of the half, Griezmann went one-on-one after a typical Madrid counterattack from a deep position: De Paul took the ball from his own penalty area and brought the striker to the goalkeeper with one throw. True, Griezmann missed the moment, but the exit itself is indicative.
Yield Griezmann on Allison occurred already at score 1: 2, but for five minutes before “Atletico” scored after a corner kick. Keita easily let himself pass, and then the location of the guests at the corner affected: nine people in the penalty area (in two lines), one in front of the server. And no one on the pick. Koke and Hermoso together controlled the area in front of the penalty area. Obviously, Lemar’s passage towards the front made the situation worse: the defenders squeezed even more into the penalty area.
With 1: 2 – a completely different alignment. The hosts returned to the game and acted in their own style: with a rare rally in someone else’s half of the field, but with regular sharp exits from the defense.
An important clarification: this closed style, historically inherent in Simeone, has long been no longer plan A for him in all matches. The new scheme is a clear attempt to play more dominant football and bring more creative players onto the pitch. But even as part of their new style, Atlético have easily rolled back into their usual low block in big games, and it works. As with Barcelona, where Madrid owned the ball less than 30%.
Yes, this is giving up possession, but this play should not be confused with passivity. Every loss of Liverpool has the potential to lead to an edge at Alison’s goal .
Atlético did not score in counterattacks, but scored another goal due to individual skill. And again, Keita easily let himself be beaten. This time – to Felix. The episode did not look dangerous until Felix dribbled the ball to someone else’s penalty area, pulling several opponents over. And then he gave a clever transmission to Griezmann : simultaneously on the move to him and in the opposite direction to van Dyck . The defender had to turn around twice in two seconds. Brilliant performance of Felix, who, in fact, came up with a goal out of nothing. Although van Dijk did not play to the end, despite the fact that it seemed that he could have time to block Griezmann’s blow.
During the break, Simeone still released Jimenez instead of Kondogbia , and Klopp removed Keith , who personally bears great responsibility for the two missed goals. Fabinho took his place in the holding area, Henderson moved to the left.
It is difficult to say how much bolder Simeone planned to play in the second half. In the first minutes, both teams alternated between segments of ownership. But seven minutes after the break, Griezmann was sent off for kicking Firmino in the neck, so plans again ceased to matter.
After Griezmann was sent off and before the penalty kick, Atlético’s style did not allow for discrepancies. The hosts defended with a low block in a 5-4-1 formation, while Liverpool pressed and easily brought the ball into the attacking third. Four hits from the penalty area in 20 minutes of the game, albeit without obvious moments: the guests dominated, but the pressure did not pass the moments. The opponent helped. In general, Hermoso naively played in the penalty area and after a simple throw from a defender across half the field ran into Zhota .
Salah converted the penalty and made the Madrid task almost impossible. There was no time to play closed, waiting for a chance: it was necessary to push in the minority, and the draw was not good enough. In such a situation, one could count only on the individual skill or mistakes of the opponent. We almost got one: Zhota inaccurately pushed Jimenez after the set, and he squeezed the maximum out of this touch. Referee Daniel Siebert himself watched the replay and changed his mind about giving a penalty.
The match turned out to be dramatic and illogical. The goals in the first half were the result of a combination of circumstances or individual skill. Atlético returned in excellent style, and when the score was 2: 2, the second half could have restarted the plans of Simeone and Klopp, but the removal of Griezmann ruined everything again, reducing the game to the only possible scenario. And in this scenario, the hosts deserved compliments right up to the penalty spot.
A draw match in moments with flamboyant performances from both sides. Of course, Salah will be in the spotlight, but Felix deserves compliments. And the main character – and the anti-hero of Atlético – is, of course, Griezmann . He returned the team to the game at 0: 2, missed a one-on-one exit and substituted his own by sending them off. A drama, an incredible coincidence, and a slightly unfair outcome. Typical Champions League.