In the days prior to the confrontation with Chelsea, Diego Pablo Simeone was hovering over the Atlético dressing room as he was considering changing the system in the face of the cracks that were accentuated in the defense of three centrals and two lanes. The sequence of seven consecutive league games conceding goals, the largest in the Argentine coach's stage since he landed in 2012, prompted him to modify the drawing to curb that unusual defensive weakness . Always, in the sections of the seasons in which the results do not accompany or perceive weaknesses, Simeone has tended to take refuge in the 4-4-2 and in the withdrawal in his own field. What nobody expected with the line-up he chose to play a first leg of the European Cup at home was that he would end up designing a 6-3-1 , with Correa and Lemar, acting as full-backs to accompany Llorente, Savic, Felipe and beautiful. Ahead, Koke, Saúl, João Félix and Luis Suárez as spearhead 70 meters from Chelsea's goal.
In one of the most important games of the season, Simeone fully renounced everything he gave to his team the loose leadership of the League. The result of that talent-plagued lineup forced to play shrunken was the most unnatural and unbalanced Atletico of the season. He defended a lot and attacked very little because the abundance of offensive players did not match such a conservative proposal.
Part of Simeone's plan was for João Félix to lead the counter-attack starts from his own field, but almost always received him from behind and surrounded by opponents or the passes that came to him were defective. The Portuguese was frustrated in the middle of one of those games that invite him to think that his agent, Jorge Mendes, was the wrong club and coach when he decided to remove him from Benfica. The other way to counterattack was for Luis Suárez to drop the long balls and play for the players who could offer face. Neither of the two exits worked.
Atlético wanted to be vertical. And it was, but without going beyond the middle of the field. It took him more than 40 meters to progress. Most of the exit attempts were aborted either by pressure from Chelsea or poor deliveries. A 74% success rate in the pass is below the 80% that analysts consider acceptable when qualifying the ball handling of a team. The number of passes made by Koke (50), below his season average (65), was very significant.
Only when he pushed up and forced Chelsea to make mistakes were the rojiblancos able to generate danger. The order given by Simeone was to press when Mendy served short or in the throw-ins close to the French goal area. As Atlético barely progressed to the opposite field and shot little, only six shots, all out, they could hardly press up.
At the end of the game, the general feeling of the Chelsea players was that they were granted a more comfortable match in defense than they were they expected. When Tuchel found out what kind of shock Simeone wanted to play, he encouraged his players not to give up the command that his rival had given him.
On the contrary, Simeone's immobility was also surprising. When he detects that the opponent is superior or that his team has trouble executing the planned plan, he usually modifies individual positions or the drawing. The line-up allowed him to have used tactical flexibility during the games that the coach and his players wield when explaining the leadership in LaLiga. Cholo accepted his approach to defend due to the accumulation of troops in the vicinity of the Oblak area because Chelsea gave him few chances. However, the game conveyed that if a team could score that was the English. He did not modify the drawing and only prepared to make the first change after the hour of play. Lodi, the only natural full back, was about to enter when Giroud scored.
Simeone paid for the return to his more conservative approaches with a roster of players who were not born to play that type of football. They were sacrificed in defense and canceled for the offensive game by a proposal that resulted in the blushing balance of zero shots on goal. The same record as two years ago in Turin, when Juventus came back from 2-0 in the first leg, dismantling another proposal that also condemned possession of the ball and its best players.