Atlético achieved a new victory that shows their determination in the title fight and that makes the rojiblancos winter champions with three games yet to play. Simeone's men recovered the first of their pending matches against a major rival, a Seville that sought to be in Champions positions and that it came after defeating Real Sociedad and showing itself as one of the teams in the best shape of the championship, but that he could not harm an iron leader. And it is that this Atlético has been changing its scheme, showing in different games a more offensive version or another more withdrawn, but that has always kept his safety behind. These are some of the reasons why Atlético has four points of advantage over Real Madrid, second classified, despite having played two fewer games.
An impregnable team
Against Sevilla it could be seen Atlético more supportive and pulling strength back with many players on Oblak's goal. And the thing is that, despite the concentration of talented offensive players that Simeone is placing, if they have to roll up their sleeves and defend, everyone does. See to Carrasco run the band constantly to help Hermoso, to Lemar being one more in the defensive system, to belt adapting to any attack position to stop rival offensives, to Suarez going down to receive from behind … is an art of defensive sacrifice. Atlético has undergone a drastic formation change, breaking the 4-4-2 that had been accompanying the team for years to place a rear with three centrals, although Hermoso's versatility allows Simeone to place him on the left side when he needs to and return to the rear of four, with a speed of adaptation and amazing results. Apparently, the inclusion of more attacking players could affect the defensive mattress foundations, but the data speaks for itself: six goals against in 16 matchdays. Only in the derby against Real Madrid were two goals conceded. Those of Jorge Molina for Granada, Budimir in Osasuna, Boyé for Elche and Felipe in his own against Alavés did not serve their teams to score. Oblak is heading for his fifth Zamora and he does so with extraordinary solvency.
One of the great problems of Atlético last season it came in definition. The team had chances, but the shot failed them. Now, they generate more and better, but they also see the goal much bigger. The arrival of Suárez has added a lot of definition at the top, with nine goals in their first 13 league games as rojiblanco. But they all add up in this facet. A year ago, Atlético had scored 16 goals in their first 16 league games, almost half of what they are today (31). The team averages almost two goals per game and has many alternatives in attack. The objective is to find Suárez in the area, but has the ability to generate danger from within, with the quality of João Félix or Lemar appearing from the midpoint, Correa's ability near the area or Llorente's strength in the race … or also by band, with a Carrasco at a huge level and a Trippier in his best moment as a rojiblanco and with five assists in the league. With Koke starting the game, Atlético has the ability to command in matches when Simeone wants it or to reinforce itself behind as against Sevilla with the score in favor. In addition, he has recovered the danger from set pieces, with several capital goals through the strategy (the latter, from Hermoso against Real Sociedad and Suárez against Getafe). The team is confident in their quality in the final meters and recovers to the blows, as demonstrated against Alavés, winning the match in the 90th minute despite having received the unfortunate draw in the 83rd. Dembélé is added to a lead that with the French he will have a player to run into space and that will give more options to the mattress offensive game.
The strength of the group
This Atlético does not depend on a single player. Simeone has made everyone add up, and although Oblak, Giménez, Trippier, Koke, Llorente, Suárez … are fundamental, Cholo has a template with many alternatives. The captain will miss his first league game this season against Eibar and Cholo will have to look for another helmsman, but so far he has been able to recover from all his losses. Not Giménez's injuries, Trippier's sanction or Suárez's coronavirus, that forced him to miss the duel against Barcelona, among others, have knocked out the team. In addition, the coach has managed to manage the fitness of his players. João Félix started as a shot, being the best player on the team and directing all the attacks, but now, perhaps due to his ankle problems, he has declined. Saúl is also going through a worse moment of form or Felipe and Lodi are worse than last season, but in return other players have taken a step forward. In addition, Simeone knows that whenever he needs it, he can turn to these players again. In total, ten colchoneros already know what it is to score in the league: Luis Suárez (9), Llorente (6), João Félix (5), Correa (2), Costa (2), Carrasco (2), Lemar (1), Torreira (1), Hermoso (1) and Saúl (1 ), To which are added Ricard, Giménez and Vrsaljko, counting the rest of the competitions. Simeone wants to have everyone active, and although Vrsaljko, Torreira, Kondogbia and company They are counting little, at some point during the course they will be important and they are prepared for it.
One of Simeone's great successes so far this season has been to recover players who seemed to have been ousted to the bench. If a year ago not even Llorente himself could imagine the explosion that was coming, so far this season they have been Hermoso, Lemar and Herrera those who have found their place on the team. The first as a third center-back, moved to the left and with the ability to position himself as a left back if the team requires it. It gives a differential ball exit and is also adding in attack. In the case of Lemar, it has cost him more to adapt to the demands of Cholo, but he has succeeded. And in the French, it seems that the big jump has been mental, with a lot of confidence in his game and feeling important inside. Against Sevilla he ran more than eight kilometers in the hour he was on the field, showing himself as the team leader when it came to leading the pressure, but also helping Carrasco and Hermoso in defense. He asks for it and feels more important in the team. For his part, Herrera has disappeared from the team in recent games due to injury, but he was having a great start to the course with Koke in the engine room. Three players who were on sale until the last day of the summer market, but who are currently very important in the team and have joined the internal competition that their technician advocates so much.
Just as strong at home, quality leap away
Atlético knows that without their fans they are weaker. A crowd that never stops encouraging and that has been the capital for so many good results for the team. However, so far, the rojiblanco team is maintaining its strength in the Wanda Metropolitano. Only Villarreal has managed to get something out of the mattress feud. 25 points out of 27 possible, defeating Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Betis, Getafe, Cádiz, Valladolid and Elche with a balance of 21 goals in favor and only two against. But the real leap in quality has occurred outside, where the team was breaking down last season. In his first eight starts last year he achieved only two victories. In this, there are five wins, a draw and the only loss to Real Madrid in the seven away games. Atlético is strong away from home, less timid. He has won at Mestalla, Balaídos, at the Reale Arena giving a blow against Real Sociedad, El Sadar and against an Alavés who always complicates things. If you want to aspire to big things, you can't have two faces, and Atlético has also achieved consistency away from home. A stronger rojiblanco team, full of confidence and much more reliable than their rivals for the title. If at the beginning of the course he was fresher and more virtuous with the ball, he has had a few games with more difficulties, but with the aim of winning above all else. A winter champion in his own right and with game by game, aspires to great heights.