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Champions League: Atlético out as Simeone shoots himself in foot


Atlético Madrid suffered an enormous let-down in Lisbon, and Diego Simeone returns to the Spanish capital having majorly blotted his copybook. The line-up he picked was incomprehensible. The blow dealt by Thomas Partey’s absence was compounded by Simeone’s decision to leave out João Félix, the ‘Menino de Ouro’, in what was a bizarre move that almost feels like an insult given we were in Lisbon, the lad’s home town. The exclusion of a player who cost 127m euros, by a distance the club’s record transfer fee, was too drastic a call. Blessed with ingenuity and exquisite technique, he has struggled for consistency at Atleti, but nothing could justify his omission from the side that took to the field at the José Alvalade.

Atlético were poor until João Félix was introduced

Indeed, Atlético were poor until Félix came on in the second half. They were a muddle of a side in which only Renan Lodi and Yannick Carrasco stood out, posing at least some threat on the left. The rest offered nothing. A lacklustre, dysfunctional team. Up against them were an RB Leipzig side who moved the ball about effectively with a fine midfielder, Kevin Kampl, dictating the play. They’re a good team who miss Timo Werner’s goals, which is why their opener did not come until the start of the second 45. A neatly worked move attracted the Atleti defence into the middle, before the ball was sprayed out to the right to be crossed in. With Los Rojiblancos' backline stretched, Dani Olmo found the space to head home.

Adams' late deflected strike sends Atleti tumbling out

Simeone then made the change that Atleti great Kiko had been calling for on Spanish radio: Félix on for Héctor Herrera, with Marcos Llorente shifting to the right and Koke into the centre alongside Saúl Ñíguez. He came on with the bit between his teeth, producing nutmegs, diagonal runs, one-twos... and with one give-and-go and forward burst earned Atleti a penalty that he himself scored. Leipzig suddenly looked less assured and, with everything seemingly set up for Atlético, Álvaro Morata was thrown on for Diego Costa (who did very little). However, Atleti lacked the energy to go for the jugular and, with time running out, Angeliño broke free on the left and crossed low to the edge of the box to the unmarked Tyler Adams, whose shot was deflected in. Atlético are out. Simeone shot himself in the foot.