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Real Sociedad 2-0 Atlético Madrid: New name, same problems

Real Sociedad convincingly ended Atlético’s dream start.

Real Sociedad v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid were rocked at Anoeta Reale Arena on Saturday evening, when Real Sociedad’s speed, physicality and quickness of thought saw them score twice in three minutes to snap their guests’ 100 percent record.

The hosts just about edged play in the first half at their newly-renovated stadium. After an uneventful opening 20 minutes, Martin Ødegaard — probably the hosts’ best player in this first half — hit a bullet header toward goal that Stefan Savić had to usher away. Alexander Isak found space early on, but Savić and José Giménez dealt well with his tricky combination of height and speed. However, the Swede went on to set up Real Sociedad’s best chance of the first half, where Mikel Oyarzabal took up his through ball and forced Jan Oblak into a super kick save. Center back Diego Llorente then missed a header from corner on 33 minutes, but his side was likely the happier one after 45 minutes.

Atlético really, really struggled for chances. João Félix was able to take more touches, but was frustrated in trying to drive play as the Txuri-Urdin swarmed him. Diego Simeone’s attack-heavy 11 could not get out of neutral — Thomas Lemar was ineffectual, and starting Vitolo removed a serious weapon from the bench. The rojiblancos missed opportunities to deliver the final ball, and in the second half they saw the effects of this inability to get out of neutral.

Imañol Alguacil’s side flew out the traps and got their go-ahead goal before the hour, when Ødegaard finished off a lightning-quick counterattack that caught cold an already-teetering defense. The Norwegian took up a Mikel Merino pass and his shot took a deflection off an unfortunate Savić.

The bleeding continued minutes later, when chaos from a free kick led to a debut goal for Nacho Monreal. Isak hit a towering header that Oblak could only paw away, and Monreal escaped his marker to double the lead. The goal knocked Oblak out of the match — the former Arsenal left-back inadvertently smashed the rebound off the Slovene’s face and left him woozy.

Atlético tried to summon another late rally, but their former goalkeeper Moyà made two great saves in two minutes from Vitolo and Giménez to stymie those efforts.

The defense was bad, the result is bad, the injury to Oblak looked bad (though the club has confirmed that he did not lose consciousness). Atleti have crashed back to reality following their perfect start to the league season, and the mattress makers have lost three of the past four in San Sebastián. It was better to get that visit over with earlier rather than later.

Simeone now will hope to recover Álvaro Morata and Thomas Partey for Juventus’ visit on Wednesday — though Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival certainly is not a promising prospect for a struggling defense.

RSO XI: Moyà; Zalduá, Aritz, Llorente, Monreal; Merino (Zurutuza 83’), Zubeldia; Portu (Januzaj 83’), Oyarzabal, Ødegaard; Isak (Willian José 74’).

Goals: Ødegaard 58’ Monreal 61’

ATM XI: Oblak (Adán 65’); Trippier, Savić, Giménez, Lodi; Koke, Saúl, João Félix (Correa 56’), Lemar (Llorente 46’); Vitolo, Costa.