Atletico Madrid seemed to be cruising. They were 2-0 up at home against Girona, a team who haven’t won away from home this season in four attempts.
But after Rodrigo Riquelme scored on his return to the Cívitas Metropolitano, Atlético suffered a lot. They needed a couple Jan Oblak saves to stay ahead of the visitors and were outshot in the last half hour.
Atlético haven’t played well this season, but they are on 16 points after eight games, three points behind Real Madrid and Barcelona with a Clásico coming up. Atlético’s biggest problem at the moment is the Champions League, but in LaLiga, they have won two in a row.
Here are three key stats from the game against Girona:
Ángel’s goal guarantee
The Argentine finished with four shots and three shots on target, with two goals as well as a team-best 0.92 xG. Next up was Matheus Cunha, whose 0.29 xG came on two shots on target.
Correa has started twice now in LaLiga, and he’s scored in both games. His 1.24 direct goal involvements per 90 is the best on the team.
Aside from his constant involvement in everything good Atlético do with the ball, Correa also won the ball back six times. That’s the best on the team for attackers. Oh, and Atlético still haven’t lost in a game when Correa scores — in his entire career.
Is it time for Correa to start every single game? We’ve had this discussion before, but for a team struggling for goals, the Argentine can at least guarantee that.
"All I can do is be ready for when the manager calls me!"— LaLigaTV (@LaLigaTV) October 8, 2022
Ángel Correa talks Atlético de Madrid's win over Girona, making the starting XI and his side's Champions League journey... ❤️
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Griezmann’s best game of the season?
Antoine Griezmann has only played 320 minutes this season in LaLiga. But it looks like his situation has finally been resolved, and he is a guaranteed starter now under Diego Simeone. Saturday was his second start in in LaLiga.
The France star had 13 passes inside the final third, the most on the team for Atlético. He also created three chances with his first assist this season, for Correa, inside the opening five minutes.
Nearly half — 47.3% — of Atlético’s attacks occurred down the left-hand side of the field and that’s typically where Griezmann plays, dropping off to receive the ball in the half-space.
Is Oblak back?
Atlético (13 attempts) outshot Girona (11) overall, but in the last 25, the newly-promoted visitors were the better team. From 65 minutes onwards, they had four shots to Atlético’s two. Riquelme’s goal took a deflection off José Giménez, but the fact is it’s another game without a clean sheet for Oblak.
Eleven of Atlético’s shots came from inside the box, which Simeone will be happy about. Despite that, the finishing could have been better and Atlético needed Oblak to save them at the end of the game. Some of his saves were old-school Oblak, including a finger tip parry from Aleix García to keep Atlético in front toward the end.
Simplemente Jan Oblak— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) October 8, 2022
• #AúpaAtleti • #AtletiGirona • #LaLigaHighlights • pic.twitter.com/uIfRcknjYV
One thing that will worry Simeone is where Girona’s chances were coming from. Riquelme was given the time to shoot and eventually score from outside the box, and García’s two excellent efforts were from the same area. Is it a closing-down issue? Are Atlético sitting back too much?
Girona had 137 passes in the final third to Atlético’s 82. Simeone will say “this is the plan,” and they are winning in LaLiga, but it’s not been easy and it’s certainly not pretty.
Atlético play in-form Athletic Club next week with the small matter of Club Brugge during the week. Then, it’s Rayo Vallecano at home and Real Betis away.