After a midweek victory in Istanbul, Atlético Madrid returned to Spain to take on SD Eibar on Saturday. The Rojiblancos looked to build on the 2-0 win over Galatasaray on Tuesday and do away with the memories of their last La Liga game, a 2-1 loss to Barcelona last Saturday.
They did just that, with a 2-0 win at the Ipurúa. However, it was an unconventional victory, as Diego Simeone chose to roll out a 4-3-3 but needed his bench to come through in the second half.
Atleti began the first half brightly, needing mere minutes to quicken the pace and push the tempo. The Antoine Griezmann-Jackson Martínez-Luciano Vietto trident had a few dangerous moments - some of which were started by hard work in defense. The forwards sat a bit deeper than usual and all three worked hard to press and even start counters on occasion. While Vietto did miss a glorious chance after some beautiful buildup from Koke and Jackson in the 24th minute, his work rate was admirable and showed he is adjusting to his new team. The aforementioned Vietto chance came just four minutes after Atleti could have opened the scoring through Jackson, the Colombian’s effort in the box requiring a save from Eibar keeper Riesgo. The best chance of the first 45 minutes, however, came through Griezmann. The Frenchman won the ball in midfield, nutmegged his defender and uncorked a long-range effort that missed the near post by inches. Diego Godín and the back four stood tall to ensure the first half would end 0-0.
Not too pleased with the first 45, Cholo broke up the trident at halftime. He swapped Jackson and Vietto for Fernando and Óliver Torres, which meant a return to the more familiar 4-4-2. Filipe Luís broke almost immediately off the restart, his long-range chance well-saved four minutes into the half. Eibar’s well-organized, tough-tackling defense frustrated Atleti, but the Basques’ lack of quality going forward was evident and José Luis Mendilibar’s men appeared set for the draw. However, Cholo had one more trick up his sleeve: the third and final sub. It was indeed a surprise to see Koke hooked on the hour for Ángel Correa, who had not featured since the opening match vs. Las Palmas. But in the latest edition of "Cholo Knows," Correa’s introduction proved to be just the spark the rojiblancos needed. A trademark Tiago long ball found Torres, who held up play nicely as Correa joined him in the box. The Argentina U-20 star then cut inside and rifled home his first Atleti goal two minutes after the hour. Fifteen minutes later, the duo decided to perform an encore, as Óliver made a quick pass to Correa, who fed a sumptuous ball through to Torres. El Niño then chipped Riesgo to kill the game, and Juanfran preserved the clean sheet in his 150th league appearance for Atleti by clearing his own errant header off the line.
Overall, a fine result for Atleti away from home. The trident didn’t quite work out, but perfect substitutions from Cholo showed off the team’s resilience and impressive depth in attack. Godín marshaled the back line with his usual dependability, and Jan Oblak kept another clean sheet (I’m getting used to that). Atleti now have three wins from four to start this La Liga season and are back at the Calderón Tuesday against Getafe.