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Simeone experiments with two systems against Man United

The Argentine coach tried two different game systems during the friendly against Manchester United: 4-4-2 in the first half, and 5-4-1 in the second.

Diego Pablo Simeone.

Atlético Madrid played their second friendly of the summer on Saturday, facing a well-armed Manchester United with the “Cristiano Ronaldo case” right at the fore. In Atleti’s starting XI for the first time was new signing Nahuel Molina along with the long-awaited return of João Félix, who missed the previous friendly; he needed less than half an hour to score the decisive goal that would lead the Spanish side to their second consecutive victory.

Simeone started the game with his team playing 4-4-2 - using a slightly similar system to the one he had used after Hermoso fell injured in the match against Numancia, for which he was also forced to place goalkeeper Gomís in attack. Today. El Cholo opted for two pure central defenders (Giménez and Savic) and a four-man midfield arranged in a diamond shape (Kondogbia as pivot, Carrasco and Llorente on the left and right, and Lemar slightly forward.

But everything changed in the second half - just like it had in Burgo de Osma a few days previously. Simeone made nine changes and completely changed the system to play three centre-backs (curiously without any natural centre-defender on the pitch). At the back he fielded Reinildo, Wass and again Witsel, while in the middle he opted to move Saúl to the left, Sergio Díez was pushed a little further forward on the right, move Koke and De Paul to the middle with João and Griezmann playing just in front of them, just behind Morata, who didn’t get many opportunities to participate in the game.

Cholo seeking versatility of two seasons ago

Switching systems dates back to the 2020-21 season when Atleti, who started the season using a 4-4-2 system, started playing with three centre-backs in the Week 9 game against Cádiz. It was an experiment which worked very well - they won 4-0, a result which convinced Simeone to stick with the same formula in the next match against Barcelona. They won again, not so emphatically, but at least the system worked.

From then on, the defense of three became fundamental for Atlético, even leading the team to win their eleventh league title. Last season, however, the constant injuries to Savic and Giménez made it extremely difficult to combine both systems, but without a doubt, Cholo’s desire is to once again achieve that versatility that gave him so much success, And if he manages to slot Reinildo and Witsel into his back three, and give continuity to the central defenders, he could do it again.