According to สถิติ ฟุตบอล, it is a very tricky game. It is a science or art which also needs critical thinking and strategizing.
After being knocked out of the champions league, Diego Simeone was forced to change tactics to secure a win against Girona. With Barcelona already triumphant in winning the title, Simeone was looking to secure second place ahead of bitter rival, Real Madrid.
Girona was fighting to avoid relegation with Celta Vigo, threatening their survival in the top tier. However, despite a high percentage of possession, Girona still fell short after Atletico beat them by two goals to nil.
So, how did Simeone manage to beat Girona?
Simeone started with his normal 4-4-2 formation with Antoine Griezmann and Alvaro Morata, leading the attack supported by Saul and Thomas Partey, Koke, and Kodri in midfield. However, Simeone used the formation 3-5-2 in the latter parts of the game with Saul and Arias playing as wingbacks.
Girona shaped up with a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Seydou leading the attack and Aleix Garcia, Douglas Lui, and Peres Pons supporting in midfield.
Girona started of as the protagonist of the fixture despite their low rankings and being away from home.
Simeone stuck to his defensive game plan for the better part of the game, causing no considerable pressure on Girona. Atletico was retreating to form a compact low-block to prevent Girona from capitalizing on their constant pressure.
Girona found it difficult to progress through the center with Atletico, closing off all possible passing lanes. Long range efforts also proved futile with Oblak in goal. It was impressive how Girona tried to break Atletico’s rigid defense; but, in the end, none of the attempts on goal ended up in the net. Atletico chose to play a direct approach with long balls looking for the runs of Morata and Griezmann.
Both teams’ systems were not successful in the first half, but Simeone was first to react and change his tactics.
Atletico’s Winning Approach
With time running out in the second half, Atletico started to be more exploring, taking a 3-5-2 formation when in possession but maintaining the 4-4-2 defensive formation.
Saul and Arias became wingbacks in the 3-5-2 formation. Partey, Rodri, and Koke supported Morata and Griezmann in a midfield trio. Both koke and Griezmann roamed in the midfield. The system used horizontal play to use the wingbacks for the attack. However, the system was not overly successful until Simeone made two substitutions.
Partey made way for Angel Correa and Felipe Luis was replaced by Vitolo.
The substitution forced another change in formation to a 2-4-2-2 with center-backs and a pivotal-midfield. Vitolo, Correa, Griezmann, and Morata formed the attacking block supported by Saul and Arias on the wings. This approach consisted of more attacking manpower and pressing further up the pitch than the previous systems. There were several attackers in between the lines and support from the wide players to provide more attacking options. The system was successful this time with Godin opening the score.
The first goal forced Girona to commit extra men in attack with Atletico, reverting to a compact low block. This led to the second goal for Atletico after Griezmann finished off a counter-attack with a chip over Girona’s keeper.
The adjustment made by Simeone in the second half was decisive and ultimately successful, proving that football is more than just a sport.