In his side’s 5-1 mauling of Las Palmas on Saturday evening Diego Simeone fielded one of the youngest sides of his six-year reign at Atlético Madrid. On only seven occasions has El Cholo put out a younger side, and four of those were used in the Copa del Rey, the habitual stage for youth teamers. The other three were spread between LaLiga, in games when Atlético had nothing at stake, and a Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen with the tie wrapped up after the first leg.
Simeone putting faith in youth
In Gran Canaria, Simeone elected to go with youth and benched much of the old guard. Only Diego Godín of the starting 11 was over 25 and Gabi (34), Juanfran (32) and Fernando Torres (33) were left out in favour of Thomas Partey (24), Sime Vrsaljko (25) and Ángel Correa (22), who lined up alongside Lucas Hernández (21), José María Giménez (22) and Yannick Carrasco (23).
Simeone decided to change his side’s tactics after the opening day draw in Girona, employing a more attacking formation with Koke and Thomas at the base of midfield. The omission of Gabi was a surprise; you can count on one hand the number of times the club captain has started from the bench under the Argentinean. But it certainly worked as Atlético shred through Las Palmas at will.
With an international break interrupting the domestic season after just two games it is too early to infer if Simeone’s changes were simply a rotation or the chance to rest some players, but Las Palmas could mark a generational change at the club. Tiago has already been moved to a coaching role and it may be that Gabi, Juanfran and Torres become less familiar in the starting 11. If that is the case, Simeone’s young guns have proven that they are ready to step into the veterans’ shoes.