Barcelona are helpless. Suarez and Lemar shone, the match was too easy for Atlético
In the last couple of weeks, Barcelona have fallen into one of the deepest holes since the turn of the century. Two consecutive defeats in the Champions League (not a single shot on target in both matches), eighth place in the championship, constant deletions and increasingly harsh comments from the coach. By the way, Ronald Koeman himself missed the match with Atlético due to disqualification. Depressive background of a very important match.
President Joan Laporta supported the coach and said before the game that Koeman would remain regardless of the score. Strong support, albeit a little odd. Koeman himself said the other day that he was “tired of defending” and that everyone should understand the context in which the team is. In fact, it is true (the season is clearly transitional, just look at the composition), but categorically wrong in form. For several weeks now, he has been explaining the setbacks to the low level of the remaining footballers, which is unlikely to instill confidence in them. It seems that Koeman is close to breaking down.
The match is also important for Atlético. You can’t tell by the number of points, but the team rolls into the season with great difficulty. Of the four wins in the championship, two were won thanks to goals in stoppage time. And in the previous round, the champions not only lost to the outsider Alaves, but were also the worst team on the field.
Diego Simeone started with the usual pattern for the new season. 3-5-2 with Koke as the controlling defensive midfielder. At the same time, in positional defense, Atlético sat down at 4-4-2 thanks to the movement of one of the fullbacks, Llorente or Carrasco . One of the intrigues was the exit of Griezmann , but the Frenchman remained in reserve, Felix came out in a quickdraw under Suarez from the first minutes .
Koeman chose an unexpected 4-2-3-1 formation with a couple of surprises in his roster. Mingesa as right-back, Dest again on the left, Frenkie de Jong as winger (this decision remains a mystery) and Depay on the cutting edge. Well, young Gavi and Nico Gonzalez hit the start again. Also in the start appeared Coutinho , who recovered from an injury that caused him to miss last season, and is gradually gaining shape.
From the first minutes, episodes began when Barcelona players crowd around the ball on one of the flanks, as if creating an overload – but at the same time without isolation on the other flank. Niko stood a couple of times five meters from Busquets , Minges did not open high enough – in general, positional play cannot be called ideal, and this is a typical problem under Kuman. Most of the creativity came from the individual actions of Coutinho and Depay .
Atlético encouraged the guests’ positional problems: they met with a middle block and readily sat down in a low one, creating maximum density in the ball zone. Given the problems at the center of the defense, a logical tactic.
The hosts’ counterattacks also looked convincing. Firstly, because of the poor location of the opponents (this simplified the task), and secondly, because of the number of attacking players. Simeone still kicks the ball, but he has two attacking footballers at the core of the defense, Koke as the midfielder and Lemar in the center of midfield – an incredible number of footballers playing more defensive roles than they are used to.
The first goal did not even start in a counterattack: Barcelona were just positioned so unsuccessfully that Hermoso cut off six people with a pass across two lines. Well, the combination of Felix with Suarez and Lemar on the third is very cool.
Barcelona did not create its own best moment in the first half: Coutinho shot after a defender’s unsuccessful clearance, winning the rebound. But “Atlético” could score again after a combination on the third, when Carrasco and Felix took Suarez one on one at an angle and he almost missed.
Leading the score, the hosts began to have even less possession of the ball, and the game finally came down to the “possession versus counterattack” scenario. One of them led to the second goal.
It began with the loss of Depay . On the one hand, it’s okay: the striker lost the ball in someone else’s half, a working moment. But on the other hand: Depay was locked on the right edge against two opponents and had no options for passing. What is he going to do there? Why didn’t de Jong support? And Minges , who opened very strangely. After the interception, Lemar cut off eight opponents with one pass to Felix .
During the break, the teams made a substitution. Simeone released instead of Trippier who sat down on the card – not in position, Llorente went to the center of midfield . And Alfred Schroeder , with whom Koeman was constantly in touch, removed Niko , instead of whom Sergi Roberto came out in position . At 0: 2, Barcelona in its current state was more important not to concede a couple more goals than to score.
Nevertheless, the guests had a chance. Gavi pressed Koke , took the ball, dragged it to the penalty area and gave it to Coutinho in a timely manner . He was alone, at an angle to the goal, and had enough time to handle the ball and shoot. Lemar scored from a more difficult situation, but Coutinho hit the goalkeeper. Madrid could also increase the score a couple of times, especially shining moment missed substitute Griezmann (screwed the ball on Correa ). This is probably not surprising: Atlético got a comfortable score, and Simeone has more attacking players on the bench than Koeman .
Suarez and Lemar scored on a goal and gave an assist. It is very difficult to choose the best one, but it should rather be Lemar , who took part in almost every possession of his team and excellently dispersed attacks. Although Felix was also very good. But it should be noted that it was easy to look good against the background of such a rival.
Good news for Barcelona in this match has to be found in the little things. For example, Fati went out again for half an hour, gradually gaining shape after the injury. The defeat was avoided. Perhaps that’s all.