ATM XI: Oblak, Juanfran, Lucas, Savic, Filipe, Saúl, Thomas, Carrasco, Koke, Vietto, Correa.
Subs: Gaitan for Carrasco (60’), Torres for Vietto (65’), Gameiro for Correa (72’).
VCF XI: Neto, Gabriel, Garay, Gayà, Montoya, Kondogbia, Parejo, Pereira, Soler, Zaza, Rodrigo.
Another match day, more surprise about Diego Simeone making major rotations to the side. The main difference is that Gabi remained on the bench, with Thomas Partey preferred to the club captain. One subject of concern was the backline, which saw Juanfran and Filipe Luis return to the side, with Stefan Savic and Lucas Hernandez making up the center of defense.
Atleti started the match like a house of fire, pressing very hard and high up the pitch, hoping to win back the ball quickly once they lost it. Thomas did a fantastic job of sweeping up balls that went deeper into midfield, and keeping the attacking move going. The passing technique has always been there for Thomas, but he has not before done it consistently. In this match, Thomas was locating his passes extremely well, and mixing up how he kept the ball moving.
In the opening few minutes of the match, Valencia were a bit shaken up by the strong Atleti start. But once there was a time for Valencia to grow back into the match, they did, and showed why they were dangerous. A few good runs, as well as service to Simeone Zaza was cause for concern, but did not come to anything at the start of the match. In the case of Yannick Carrasco, the Belgian had a wasteful first half, losing possession on five occasions in this match.
The stalemate continued after halftime, on 60 minutes, Carrasco was substituted for Nico Gaitan. Gaitan almost made an instant impact just a minute after coming on, when he had a good chance to give Atleti the lead, only to be foiled by Neto. Five minutes after the first substitution, Simeone also opted to bring on Fernando Torres to replace Luciano Vietto. Vietto had a decent game, hopefully something that he can build on this season. Gameiro became Atleti’s final sub, replacing Correa.
Worryingly, several Atlético players went down with injuries after all three substitutions were made. Koke, Saúl and Filipe, among others had various complaints about injury. Whether any of those are real we will find out, but hopefully everyone made it out of this match without injury. Despite 30 fouls, only one yellow card was issued in the whole match. This made for a chippy match with fouls often breaking up attacking moves or spells of possession.
Both teams had spells of attacking pressure as the match wore on, and ultimately neither side could find the back of the net. Torres and Gameiro did not have many chances to show what their partnership would look like, but neither made a huge impact on the match.
Valencia then started to put more pressure on Atleti, who could not get much going in an attacking sense. Defensively, even though there were lapses at time, Atlético looked quite good in defense, keeping their first clean sheet of the season. Valencia did not have any of their 10 shots go on target, half were missed and the other half were blocked by Atleti. Hopefully, this will restore some confidence to players like Stefan Savic, Juanfran and Filipe Luis. Also helping the development of Lucas Hernandez, who again played very well.
The first clean sheet of the season is always going to be a positive, despite the lack of goals. These sorts of matches happen throughout most Atlético seasons, it was a shame this week that Atleti had a chance to gain point on Real Madrid following their draw. Following the draw Atleti sit in fourth, with several teams yet to play.