As a number of experts have pointed out, Diego Simeone adopted a more expansive approach following the first two games of the season when Griezmann warned of a relegation battle saying: “If we continue like this, we will fight for relegation.”
Atletico had to learn the hard way that it was time for change. But, he seems to have made the right choice when you take a look at the league table while, by contrast, many others are still struggling to figure things out. Let's consider, for instance, Leicester's Claudio Ranieri who seems incapable of adjusting this year after their success last term.
What do these changes consist of? According to the stats, the first element worth a look is the steep increase of short passes per game: +10% compared to the previous season and +24% compared to 2014/2015.
This means that Atletico are more confident in the midfield and capable of quicker ball movement in that area. They have also increased their passing accuracy from 76.3% during the 2014/2015 season to 81.4% today.
This improved ability to play a quicker and more effective style has resulted in an increase in the number of shots per game which move from 11.5 in 2014/2015 to 16.5 in the current season.
However, as there is a correlation between the number of shots per game and the probability of scoring goals from open play, this improvement is probably not going to surpass Barcelona or Real Madrid any time soon, according to projections, the former are going to score 71 goals from open play by the end of the season, the later 87, while Atletico just 65. (Chances are they will only concede half of what the big two do.)
This represents a steep increase (+116%) from the 2014/2015 season when Atleti scored just 30 goals from open play as well as a 20% increase compared to last season.
As we know, however, this does not guarantee anything as it usually depends on the distribution of goals as well as on the capability of the team to maximize all those situations which are not classified as open play, like for example, penalties.
Therefore, considering Griezmann’s penalty miss on Sunday, it becomes pivotal that Atletico take their chances this season. If they can manage that, they will be very close to winning La Liga for the first time in three years.