Atlético Madrid lost to Mallorca on Wednesday night in their last LaLiga game before the World Cup. The 1-0 defeat leaves Diego Simeone’s side winless in five games, eliminated from European football and sitting fifth in the league.
“It has no explanation,” Koke said after the game, in which he returned after an injury layoff. “In the second half, the team came out in a different way, had chances but when the ball doesn’t want to go in during a run like this, it’s inexplicable.
“Atlético fans want to see their team the same as always, working, fighting, having heart and courage,” he continued. “Sometimes, we haven’t been able to find this for them to believe in us.”
Diego Simeone said after the game that “to say we lacked certainty during the game is a very simple excuse,” and that “we are committing lots of defensive errors that make the game an uphill battle.”
Atlético have indeed paid the prices for defensive errors in recent weeks. For the goal against Mallorca, Jan Oblak parried a shot he has to either turn around the post or push away to safety. Instead, the ball fell to the foot of a Mallorca player in the penalty area. Rodrigo de Paul switched off to allow Vedat Muriqi sneak behind him.
This has happened to De Paul a couple of times recently. Surely, he has to be aware of Muriqi, Mallorca's main goal threat, behind him. Not once does he scan for potential danger. pic.twitter.com/VwyK1S10Be— Robbie Dunne (@robbiejdunne) November 10, 2022
The same thing happened during the 3-2 loss at Cádiz late last month, when Álex Fernandez snuck inside the penalty area and finished a chance to make the score 2-0. It was the same story against Porto in the Champions League group stage finale on 1 November, where there was a collective meltdown in defense.
Later Thursday, Marcos Llorente tweeted a message of support for his manager after videos showed him apparently ignoring Simeone’s attempts to get his attention during the Mallorca game.
“As a professional athlete, I have always respected and followed instructions from my managers. We play in front of thousands of people,” he said. “Yesterday, I didn’t hear anything until my teammate Koke whistled me. There is no need to look for something that doesn’t exist. I have a great relationship with my manager and I am with him to the death.”
Llorente is the second player to publicly back Simeone in the last week with Jose Giménez saying the same after the Espanyol draw in the previous matchday.
Atlético have one more game in the Copa del Rey before the World Cup. They play against Almazán from Soria on Saturday at 10 p.m. local time.