Atlético Madrid produced multiple good opportunities in the second half of Saturday night’s match at Granada, but the visitors lost another lead via poor set piece defending and an inability to finish chances. Granada snapped a three-game losing skid as Atlético — missing two midfielders and two central defenders — drew for the seventh time already this season.
- Héctor Herrera played well and assisted Renan Lodi’s goal via an electric through ball. The Mexican drove play and replaced Thomas Partey more than adequately. But there was no excuse for him to be outmuscled this badly by Germán Sánchez.
- My rule of thumb is generally “if you have to blame the officials for a bad result, you probably weren’t good enough to win anyway.” Though Diego Simeone called this performance Atlético’s best yet away from home, the Rojiblancos still were not quite good enough Saturday. Álvaro Morata missed two big chances totaling 0.78 expected goals and the team’s set piece misery continued. When those things happen on the road, you don’t deserve three points.
That said...this looks an awful lot like Víctor Díaz cutting down substitute Darío Poveda in the six-yard box.
Oh well. VAR is a broken system and there’s no sense writing 400 extra words about its usage.
- Lodi’s opening goal. Stylish.
Lodi has had difficulties defensively, but by and large he has adapted well to the team’s needs. The Brazilian has often shown his class when provided solid cover. Koke helped him out in this match and gave him license to make two key passes in a league match for the first time since September.
- Speaking of Poveda — the former Villarreal striker made his Atlético debut Saturday. He almost instantly saw a headed attempt blocked in the box, and went on to win three aerial duels in less than 10 minutes. Diego Simeone spoke well of the 23-year-old during Friday’s press conference — he has scored eight goals in eight games for Atlético B, and at 6’1’’ it isn’t unreasonable to expect him to win a fair share of headers.
Simeone also discussed Roro Riquelme and Ivan Šaponjić as in-house Diego Costa replacements, but neither player made the bench at Los Cármenes. As such, Poveda seems to have the early lead in the battle to deputize for Morata.
- The ratings from AS and Marca, respectively.
Ángel Correa was too wild and could have been sent off for diving late in the first half — Simeone acted prudently in hauling him off before the hour.
Play went heavily through Kieran Trippier in the first half and he finished with five key passes and four accurate crosses. The England international’s defending has improved enough to where Simeone seems to trust more in his fast, loose attacking style.
Marcos Llorente did not stand out, but perhaps that’s a good thing as he looks to cut out unfortunate ball-playing errors from his game. However, it remains difficult to see where he fits when Koke, Thomas and Saúl Ñíguez are available.
João Félix didn’t look like he had much rust to shake off and actively tried to create chances. He should start against Juventus on Tuesday. There remains an interesting possibility that Simeone could play Félix and Correa on either side of Morata.