After seven games in a row without a clean sheet, something that had never happened before for Simeone at Atlético Madrid, the coach decided to put the blanket at the back and go for a 0-0 against Chelsea in the Champions League. It was a home game for Atleti, although for covid reasons being played in Bucharest, but for Simeone that’s all the more reason to park the bus like that. For him (as also occurred to Mourinho) 0-0 at home is not a bad result, because 1-1 away seems pretty achievable. So Atleti played a miserable game, risking nothing. But the expected 0-0 was ruined by Giroud’s goal, initially ruled out by referee Brych, but eventually given after a detailed examination from the chick sexer on duty, who after a number of minutes deduced that the ball reached Giroud not from Mount but from Hermoso.
A crisis over results tends to turn into a crisis on the pitch. The team is missing Tippier a great deal, thanks to the decision of the FA, which so happens to favour Chelsea, would you believe it. Llorente played in defence last night, which takes him away from the danger area. He barely moved up the pitch to face up to Marcos Alonso. Watching them I remembered that I’d seen their grandfathers play, Grosso and Marquitos. I even saw them play on the same pitch. The day Grosso made his debut for Atlético, against Murcia. He scored a well-remembered goal with a scissors-kick. He played at centre-forward facing Marquitos, the veteran central defender, then at Murcia after a glorious career with Madrid.
This is the third slip-up from Spanish sides in this round of the Champions League, adding to the sensation of pessimism we’re feeling. We’ll see if Madrid can alter the trend. They have a major problem with injuries, but still have the chassis of the team in place: the reliable Modric-Casemiro-Kroos in the middle. Their goal will be to control the pace of the game, with Atalanta looking to turn things into a frenzy. They are a good team, true to themselves, creation of the singular Gasperini, who has raised the standard for attacking football on the soil where catenaccio was born. Press, steal, sheer speed. And quality, of course, because without that teams don’t get anywhere. Madrid need to find a way to stop them in their tracks.