Photo taken by: J.J. Guillen/EPA

La Liga: Round 17

Photo taken by: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images
Photo taken by: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

SD Eibar 0-2 Atlético de Madrid


SD Eibar: Yoel; Capa, Mauro, Lejeune, Luna; García, Rico; León, Adrián, Inui; Enrich. (4-2-3-1)

Atlético de Madrid: Moyá; Vrsaljko, Savić, Godín, Luis; Giménez, Gabi, Koke, Saúl; Griezmann, Torres. (4-4-2)

Atlético de Madrid arrived to the Ipurua Municipal Stadium with the urgency of getting three points against SD Eibar and keeping up the fight with the leaders of the table. It did not look like that they were in need during the first 54 minutes of the game. Here is why:

The “Colchoneros” played with its traditional 4-4-2 lineup, but with a little tweak on it. José María Giménez — who is a classic center-back — played as a center midfielder. Giménez is one of the feistiest defenders in La Liga. He uses his physicality to beat his rivals in one-on-one situations and aerial duels. But he is not characterized for being the main offensive nucleus of his team.

There were moments during the game when Atlético played with a 4-1-4-1 scheme — Giménez playing behind Gabi and Koke. The problem of this tactic was that Atlético’s midfield line looked broken at times. Midfielders could not find the way to create good chances or passing lanes to Antoine Griezmann or Fernando Torres. All of this because of two things: 1) Giménez could not connect the dots between the backline and the midfield line — so the team did not have clarity on the offensive transitions. 2) The constant pressure by Eibar midfielders when marking the passing lanes.

Fran Rico and Dani García formed a fantastic center-midfield duo throughout the entire game. Their quick recovery of the ball allowed Eibar wingers — Takashi Inui and Adrián González — to spread their positions and exploit the wings. Eibar was able to create a couple of chances and put Atlético under pressure during the first half of the game.

In the 54th minute, Atlético used one of their most reliable weapons from the past years under Diego Simeone’s head-coaching tenure: aerial opportunities through set pieces. After receiving the ball from a corner, Filipe Luis sent a cross from the left wing to Saúl Ñíguez, who connected a beautiful header inside the box — he was offside, by the way.

Seventeen minutes after the goal, Simeone made a substitution that was one of the keys for Atlético’s victory. Kevin Gameiro entered in substitution of Torres. This move gave more mobility and speed to Atlético in the counterattacks. In fact, three minutes later, the Double G connection — Griezmann and Gameiro — was the protagonist of the second goal for Atlético. Gameiro assisted Griezmann for the goal after an explosive counterattack by the two French men. Griezmann ended-up with his nine-game goalless streak.

Even though Atlético have not been consistent in terms of getting good results so far this season, they are still one of the best defensive teams when defending a leading score. Suddenly, after the two goals, Giménez’ role in the midfield area made sense for the team. He swept every ball that was in front of him and kept Eibar midfielders away from sending shots from long distance.

Eibar did everything to create chances but were not able to concrete them. A 2-0 victory for Atlético that might be crucial for them to keep on the fight for Champions League qualification positions in the table, and why not, the title.

About Jose Sanchez

Journalism student at the University of Florida. Venezuelan and future sports journalist.

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