Tactics are everything in football. The manager with advanced, unpredictable tactics will be able to take on the best team in the world ten times out of ten. A good team would help, however. It’s a good thing that Atleti has both. Diego Simeone, affectionately nicknamed El Cholo, has revolutionized soccer ever since he set foot in the Estadio Vicente Calderon Stadium. His inaugural season ended with his winning the UEFA Europa League. He’s repeated the feat multiple times and added numerous other honors to round up his Atletico Madrid career(European Coach of the Season, two LaLiga titles, Copa del Rey).
It’s also always a hobby for soccer fans to guess lineups. So not only will I try to guess the upcoming lineup against Elche, but guess Simeone’s playstyle. Here we go!
It’s unknown whether Elche will line up in a 3-1-4-2 as they did against Athletic Club, but I think that Atleti will line up in the same formation that did against Celta. Simeone has grown rather fond of that particular lineup, and there’s no real reason to switch from it. However, El Cholo might not want to be stuck playing the same formation as Elche. He could play in a 4-4-2 like he used to, a 5-3-2 if he wants to maintain a lead, or a 4-4-1-1 if he feels adventurous. The possibilities are limitless and only insiders have the information to a potential lineup.
I predict that, of course, Jan Oblak will start the game. The world’s best goalie will probably start. New addition Benjamin Lecomte’s playing time will probably be restricted to domestic cup games and games that Atleti feels they can win without their starting keeper. He’ll probably sit on the bench.
El Cholo will probably start a back three of(from left to right) Renan Lodi, Stefan Savic, and Jose Gimenez. Mario Hermoso’s one-game suspension opens up a chance for Brazilian youngster Lodi to reclaim his starting spot. With a good game against the lowly side Elche, he could potentially be a mainstay in Atleti’s defense.
Saul Niguez started as a left-back previously, so he could steal the spot from Lodi. But Lodi is more accustomed to playing as a defender more than Niguez is. It’s a real toss-up, but I think Niguez will start in the midfield.
After a world-class performance in Vigo, Geoffrey Kondogbia is primed to start as the lone defensive midfielder. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he performed this good: he was previously valued at around 30 million euros with Inter. Kondogbia is the best defensive midfielder in the squad: the best should play the most. Hopefully, Kondogbia can replicate his performance at Celta for Atleti.
I think the four midfielders will be Thomas Lemar on the left, Marcos Llorente on the right, and Koke and Rodrigo de Paul in the center. After Lemar’s splendid performance the last matchday, he’s likely to earn another starting spot. He’s one of the best midfielders in the squad, and he displayed that Sunday.
Marcos Llorente is tied second with Joao Felix and Pedri for being the most valuable player in LaLiga. Only Frenkie de Jong is ahead of Llorente. He’s a force of nature, and too good to be left on the bench. Expect him on the right instead of the center, so that Simeone has more options.
Koke is the skipper and one of the best midfielders in the world, and that’s all I have to say about that.
Rodrigo de Paul is primed for his first full-length game, but he’ll face great competition from Saul Niguez
For the attacking duo, I think it’s likely that Luis Suarez and Angel Correa play up top. Correa had a magnificent game against Celta Vigo, scoring a brace to give Atleti three points. The Argentine will play as a second striker to the one and only Luis Suarez. The former Barcelona attacker was a focal point in Atleti’s attack last season, and I expect Suarez to do the same in the 21/22 season.
Probable subs: Benjamin Lecomte, Kieran Trippier, Sime Vrsaljko, Saul Niguez, Mario Soriano, Sergio Camello, Yannick Carrasco
Atleti will likely come out the gates roaring. Expect creative, attacking play for Thomas Lemar on the wings, clinical finishing from Luis Suarez, and tough defending from the back line. Everyone expects an Atleti victory. Los Rojiblancos can’t go wrong here.