ATM XI: Oblak, Godín, Giménez, Lucas, Vrsaljko; Koke, Thomas, Saúl, Carrasco; Vietto, Correa
Subs: Gabi for Vietto (55’); Torres for Correa (64’); Savic for Vrsaljko (70’).
UDLP XI: Chichizola, Bigas, Lemos, Castellano, simon; Hernan, Jonathan Viera, Fabio Gonzalez’ Jonathan Calleri, Momo, Tana
Starting has been a problem for Atleti, but a win against Las Palmas could make the opening draw seem like a blip. Diego Simeone made serious changes to the team that started against Girona on match week one. The front line was totally changed, with Ángel Correa and Luciano Vietto making up Atleti’s attack. The only change in midfield was Thomas Partey, who replaced Gabi presumably for rest. In defense, both Diego Godín and Šime Vrsaljko came in for Juanfran and Stefan Savic.
Entirely different from last week’s approach was the way Atleti started, pressing and combining really well to start the match in what is a tough away journey. Just three minutes in, Correa scored his second goal of the season after some great close control in the box to finish to Chichizola’s left. Just two minutes later and Atleti had it in the back of the net again, this time from Yannick Carrasco, who did well to get in the box and get off a left-footed cross goal shot, putting up Atleti 2-0 in the first five minutes.
After the second goal, Atleti cooled off somewhat after the second goal, becoming more compact to defend their lead. They did still have counter attack opportunities, but none came to fruition. Las Palmas could have had a penalty at 12’ but the referee disagreed. The match became much more chippy towards the end of the half, with numerous fouls taking place leading into the half.
At halftime Atleti were 2-0, and playing well but needed to remain disciplined to hold on to their lead. The team looked to be on a similar wavelength, despite the changes. The replacements had a good impact on the team; Correa scoring the opener will do wonders for Simeone’s evaluation of the promising Argentine. Thomas covered a lot of ground in the midfield, and distributed really well when he chose to pass. Koke was deployed on the wing for much of the first half, but because of the presence of Vrsaljko, he was much more protected than with Juanfran. Saúl was generally further forward than Thomas, but was shouting instructions throughout the match, a good sign for such a promising player.
One issue that carried over from the first half was Luciano Vietto committing to some challenges a bit more than he should, was yellow carded, and then gave away more fouls. As a result, he was substituted for Gabi on 54 minutes. Just a few minutes later, however, Las Palmas scored through Jonathan Calleri after some poor play from Vrsaljko left the defense somewhat exposed.
However, Atleti responded in the best possible way, with Koke scoring his first of the season on a beautiful shot from outside the box that curled into the top corner. Restoring Atleti’s two-goal advantage was important so Atleti’s backline could have a bit of relief. In the 70th minute, Vrsaljko came off for Savic, as Atleti looked to close out their victory.
On 75’ Koke scored another sensational goal, this time in the six-yard box, where he pulled off a great overhead kick to add to Atelti’s advantage. Carrasco had worked his way into the box and lost control, but it found its way to Koke. The most annoying moment of the match occurred on 80 minutes, when captain Gabi hacked down a Las Palmas player in the box, conceding a penalty. However, our lord and savior Jan Oblak made a good save on what was a weak penalty.
Another player to open his account in this match was Thomas, who scored on 88’, with a shot from just outside the box. Thomas looked very comfortable and effective in this set up, and will hopefully become a crucial part of the team.
Overall, this was an extremely positive match from Atleti, a big win, and one in which several players who need to have good seasons played very well. Correa continued his scoring run, while Koke, Thomas and Carrasco all opened their accounts for the season. To win does wonders for the confidence, as well as no signs of missing Antoine Griezmann’s goals. This sets Atleti up well for another tough away trip, after the international break, and leaves the club feeling good.