Simeone squeezes his staff

The versatility of its players gives it many variants. Llorente started against Cádiz as the lane, went to the middle after the break and finished on top.


There is no one who knows the Atlético squad better than Simeone. And Cholo knows that each of his players give him multiple alternatives, either in the current scheme with three centrals and two lanes or returning to the defense of four.

If casualties hit the team, the coach does not hesitate to reconvert his players to face them. With Hermoso, Carrasco and João Félix isolated after testing positive for coronavirus, the longest absence the team faces is that of a Trippier who had become the owner and lord of the right lane. The Englishman was going through his best rojiblanco moment and had played everything between the League and the Champions League before receiving the sanction from FIFA, as a result of the complaint from the English Federation, which prevents him from playing until the end of February.

The most natural solution to cover the loss of English is that of Vrsaljko, but the Croatian is still not at his best after having chained ten months without competing. Thus, Cholo has been moving his pieces. Against Valencia, with a tie on the scoreboard, he gave entry to Lodi for Vrsaljko and transferred Carrasco to the right profile. The Belgian was brilliant, participating in a goal, being incisive and generating a lot of danger. But he has not been able to repeat the experiment, since the Belgian tested positive for coronavirus.

A new twist for Simeone, who placed Llorente on the side against Cádiz. The '14' was not out of tune, but it lost a lot of action radius, something that the team cannot afford. So, with the entry of Vrsaljko at half-time for Torreira, Llorente returned to midfield to end up playing in the lead when Herrera and Kondogbia substituted for Lemar and Suárez. In the right lane, even Giménez was seen to try to close the victory against Getafe. In the absence of Trippier, Cholo has pulled out of his sleeve multiple reconverted alternatives and even has some more variant in players like Vitolo or Correa, although Carrasco seems that he may be the one with more continuity when he returns.

Of course, the Belgian is shining in a left lane, where multiple alternatives have also been passing. With Lodi as a natural replacement, Simeone opted for Saúl in a position that has already participated on several occasions to leave a great performance against Cádiz. In addition to Carrasco, Lodi and Saúl, Hermoso has also played close to the band, Lemar saw the door against Valladolid from that position and Manu Sánchez had minutes before leaving on loan to Osasuna. Among the three centrals it is clear that Savic goes to the right, Giménez or Felipe to the center and Hermoso to the left. But, without the latter, the Uruguayan and the Brazilian have alternated the discomfort of having to play tilted towards the less skilled leg.

In the center of the field, the sacrifice of his players allows Simeone to choose between multiple alternatives for the pivot. If Kondogbia and Torreira are the two most natural to the position, Koke has adapted like a glove to being the player who starts the game and prevents the team from splitting. Herrera was also brilliant in that facet and Saúl and Llorente, two complete wild cards for Cholo, have also played there, although they suffer more in the exit of the ball. Lemar is now happy starting from a more focused position, although he can always return to either side.

Saúl y Llorente, for everything

And above, Correa's work allows him to appear as a second striker or as a right inside, covering the lane and forming a practically insurmountable band. João Félix also played close to the side and the omnipresent Llorente can appear in any position in the attack. Vitolo, although he has disappeared from the map, has had minutes this course in band and also in point. A versatility that has led Atlético to stay in winter with a squad of 22 players, but where the vast majority can appear in multiple demarcations.

Cases like those of Saúl (he has played from center, winger, lane, inside, pivot, midfielder, midfielder and second striker) or Llorente (lane, pivot, midfielder, inside, playmaker, second striker and striker) give Cholo the tranquility of know that you will always have wild cards among your pupils. El Cholo squeezes his squad and advocates for fewer players, but more internal competition where all of them are plugged in. So far it is working perfectly, although now the calendar is tightening and the Dembélé, Kondogbia, Torreira will have to appear ... to take a step forward.

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