ATM XI: Oblak, Arias (Filipe 46’), Gimenez, Lucas, Juanfran, Rodri, Thomas, Lemar (Vitolo 63’), Correa (Kalinić 75’), Griezmann, Morata.
RB XI: López, Barragán, Mandi, Feddal, Bartra (Sidnei 52’), Francis (Júnior 73’), Guardado, Kaptoum, Joaquin (Javi García 84’), Canales, Sergio León.
Sunday was Álvaro Morata day, as the former Atlético Madrid canterano made his debut in LaLiga against Real Betis. In terms of the team itself, Diego Simeone was forced into a Lucas-José Giménez pairing at the back, with Juanfran deployed at left back. This meant an appearance on the wing for Ángel Correa, while Morata took his place alongside Antoine Griezmann.
Despite a rocky start to the season, Betis have been much better of late and performing to their full capabilities, especially after making some big purchases in the summer. The biggest chance for Betis in the first half came just minutes into the match as Jan Oblak was required to make a ridiculous save from a corner. Atlético have yet to concede in the first thirty minutes of a match this season, and going a goal down early against Betis would have made the task very difficult indeed.
Morata flashed his qualities in the first half as he registered Atlético’s only shot, and he looked pretty comfortable alongside Griezmann. For the first game the two have played together, they look complementary, but once again Atleti’s wide players will have to adapt to a new striking situation. Correa was busy in the first half, but committed a few too many fouls and looked like he got quite frustrated towards the end of the half.
However, just over 15 minutes into the second half, substitute Filipe Luís was penalized for a handball in the area, and Sergio Canales put away the penalty. Oblak got about as close to it as he could without saving it, but Atlético now had to dig themselves out of a hole. Just prior, Atlético had been denied a penalty for a foul on Morata, but a marginal handball was what the referee did see.
After realizing his side were 1-0 down, Simeone decided to throw on Vitolo and Kalinić for Lemar and Correa, as the mystery of why Vitolo can’t start over Correa goes on. Once Vitolo was on he did well to win a number of free kicks which allowed Atlético a chance from set pieces. In terms of pure shots, Atlético dominated this game, but that is a bit deceiving as the mattress makers really couldn’t create any clear-cut chances.
Ultimately, with no real bite to the attack in the second half, Atlético were always going to struggle. What this side needs most is to find a specific group of players that works together, and in some places it has been found, but the whole team has yet to have a standout performance this season. And now they find themselves six points behind Barcelona.