The champion ran out of undefeated status in Vitoria, against Alavés, who had failed to score in the first six games. Simeone’s team was flirting with the vertigo of defeat in recent days, and in the least expected place fell into the abyss. From a team like Atlético de Madrid a lot is always expected, or at least something, but in Mendizorroza he was left to nothing, unable to untangle the tangle in which Alavés got him, who did nothing but his job. He did well and Calleja, already a victim of rumors, breathes a bit.
Mamadou Loum’s family was looking for a place in the stands with their stroller, a wife and two young children, when the Senegalese midfielder caused the first corner of the match. They had not yet sat down in their locality and Laguardia was finishing with his head, away from Oblak, the center of Duarte from the little cheese on the corner. At Atlético a game was going uphill again. As against Getafe, Espanyol or Villarreal, a dangerous habit for the League champion, who is getting used to walking on the wire, and also, offering poor offensive arguments. This time he was not going to find a remedy in the last minutes, in the discount or in a gift from the rival, who was not for the work.
Because despite the brilliance of the names that make up its line-up, especially in the advanced lines of the team, Simeone’s group granted facilities in the first Alavés foray and then was unable, throughout the first half, to put Pacheco in trouble. , a complacent spectator of the game from his small area, who limited his work to clearing a couple of balls with his foot, or to kick off the goal after the inaccurate shipments to the area of the colchoneros, who did not even swarm around the area of danger. In fact, they barely fluttered.
Marcos Llorente trotted like a foal well held by the reins of the Vitoria defenders, Griezmann floated with a ballet rhythm attempting a pas de deux incompatible with Luis Suárez’s elephant footprints, and Carrasco drew parallel lines when perhaps the game, and the way in which Alavés cemented it, demanded perpendiculars.
Calleja’s men worked like colossi to keep their team afloat, and they managed to cover all the waterways. It was a choral task, everyone collaborated, because the qualifying situation is not for squares. Of course, Atlético’s poverty of ideas with the ball at their feet contributed, gladly yielded by the hosts, who had done much of their work with the early-morning goal of central Laguardia. Only on the basis of lateral fouls did Atlético worry, but more because of the feeling of danger they cause than because of their execution.
After the break, Alavés wanted to be a wall and Atlético a pylon hammer. Simeone made a triple change and put Correa, Lodi and Cunha on the grass and the burden on Pacheco’s area intensified, which began to stop being as comfortable as in the first set. Correa shook the chicken coop and the bombardment began to multiply, although there was always a Vitorian head to repel the siege. Laguardia, effective in both areas, took a ball hanging from a foul on the line in one of the best equalizing options that Atlético had, orphaned of Suárez or Griezmann to finish off in conditions.
The clearest, however, were Alavés, in the few times they approached Oblak. With Atlético awaiting other duties, he neglected the defense a bit, and in one of those, Loum made his way into the area, and with the goalkeeper in front of him, he stuffed himself with the ball and finished very high. The same thing happened to Tomás Pina after Rioja was undone in a couple of dribbles of both mattress defenders. His pass back was wasted by the midfielder, not very skilled in these actions.
The last minutes were dramatic for Alavés, unable to pass two consecutive passes, and also for Atlético, impotent, condemned to hang aerial balls that caused panic in the stands, but not victims. Even Oblak went to finish off the last lateral foul, with the discount already exhausted, and the Alava players had to punish one more minute, until Mateu, who organized a cabal in the small area in which players from both teams met, decided that the game was over.
Atlético will have to reflect on what it offers, that in Vitoria it was very little against a rocky and plugged team, which took advantage of its opportunity but gave Simeone’s men more than 90 minutes to turn it around. This time, after several successful episodes, he failed.
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