Atlético Madrid’s possession percentage in the first half. It was ultimately sterile possession, as Atlético generated zero shots on target against Alavés’ largely second-choice team. João Félix nearly scored a gorgeous goal from an overhead kick, but he spent most of the first half getting kicked around by the visitors’ tough defense. Thomas couldn’t dictate play with so much lateral passing and picked up a dumb yellow card late in the half. Atleti struggled to break down Alavés’ six-man back line and lacked a cutting edge that Diego Simeone hoped Félix or Ángel Correa would provide — the latter was barely noticed in the first 45 minutes.
The number of goals Saúl has scored in LaLiga, and the number of assists Kieran Trippier has made in LaLiga this season.
Marcos Llorente’s first action upon entering the match was to draw a foul and yellow card on left back Adrián Marín. On the ensuing free kick, Saúl took advantage of José Giménez’s movement to sneak between two defenders and head home Trippier’s ball from the right.
Saúl scored his third goal of 2020 — all three have come from set pieces. He had a great game overall, completing 90 percent of his passes, creating two chances, completing two dribbles and winning two headers.
Trippier wasn’t really himself over the first half of 2020 and this was his best game of the calendar year. He is still this team’s best option in dead-ball situations.
Diego Costa’s total goal contribution in LaLiga. He has scored two and assisted two since June 14.
Llorente won a penalty with a darting run into the area less than 20 minutes from time — Ruben Duarte cut him down on the edge of the six-yard box. It was a debatable call, but VAR upheld it. Costa immediately stepped up and sent Fernando Pacheco the wrong way to slot what would hold up as the winning goal.
Costa has gotten a couple steps slower over the past two years. But he is in good physical condition and has been awfully effective since LaLiga emerged from the coronavirus break. Simeone has given Costa shorter bursts of time whether he is starting from the opening minute or from the bench, and this has helped him stay in solid shape.
The distance between third and fifth place in the table. Atlético’s fourth straight win has essentially clinched a spot for the team in next season’s Champions League, and Los Colchoneros now boast a four-point lead over Sevilla too. Atleti have taken 13 of a possible 15 points since the restart and enter Tuesday night’s battle at Barcelona in great form.
However, Koke conceded a penalty in stoppage time after he slid to knock down a low free kick. He was booked, and will be suspended for that game at Camp Nou. Simeone hasn’t been without Koke since the Feb. 1 loss at Real Madrid — the end of a five-game winless run, all with the captain shelved due to injury. Stefan Savić will not play in that match either, due to his own yellow card accumulation.
ATM XI Oblak; Trippier, Savić, Giménez, Lodi; Thomas, Saúl, Correa (Llorente 56’), Koke; Félix (Carrasco 65’), Morata (Costa 56’).
Goals Saúl 59’ Costa 73’ (pen.)
ALA XI Pacheco; Aguirregabiria, Ely, Tachi, Marín (Rioja 78’); Fejsa; Pons (de la Fuente 78’), Abdallahi, Méndez (Duarte 61’), Vidal (Joselu 61’); Burke (Camarasa 85’).
Goal Joselu 90’+1 (pen.)