There are times when logic is an impossible chimera in football. Ángel Correa, Atlético’s most anarchic footballer, put his team’s game in order to certify the pass to the quarterfinals of the Cup. Simeone’s team had been shipwrecked in the first half, disoriented and dwarfed for not hitting two consecutive passes . And it was Correa who amended the plan to his companions.
He sharpened a couple of transitions and it was enough for Atlético to finish off Levante. Perhaps Correa is the player with whom Simeone is most unfair every time he sends him to the bench. Even in his worst games he always gives something. And last night he contributed what his team lacked the most, clairvoyance and precision in the middle of the field and in the last meters. On the back of Correa, Atlético reached the quarterfinals of the Cup for the first time since the 2017-18 season. He participated in both goals and once again claimed to be essential in a team that was fighting with the ball.
Soccer is a game in which continuity is given by the ball. It is about having a good time, something in which the Atlético footballers failed in the first half. The lack of precision not only affects the goal, it affects the pass and the controls, basic principles of the game. That jug of failed deliveries was nonsense and an aberration in a team full of internationals and with two recent World Cup winners, Molina and De Paul. Both, so far this season, are also on their way to being crowned world champions of bad centers.
The trend was so widespread that it betrayed a team without calm or temper. Even Griezmann, who has become the only decent player on his feet in recent games, joined that square-booted football. This time, Levante did not grow because Simeone ordered a step back or was reserved in his approach. He played with Llorente, Morata and Griezmann up front and with De Paul and Barrios escorting Kondogbia. It was his soccer players who handed over the government of the party to him. By dint of giving them the ball, Son, Montiel, Musonda, De Frutos and the combative Bouldini began to emerge. The Moroccan charged Oblak in the area with his arm on an aerial ball and the contact was flagged as a foul by the referee after Pepelu took advantage of the rebound to score. Simeone’s players sighed. If with the game tied he didn’t have a pass, with the score against it would have triggered his madness. Bouldini himself on the next play made them pale with a hard shot that whistled over the crossbar.
The end of the first half was another relief for Atlético in the face of the game disaster that their players were drawing. Simeone operated sitting the youth squad Barrios. Actually, he could have sent anyone to the bench in the face of such nonsense. The one chosen to straighten out the party was Correa and this was the hand of a saint. With a couple of precise passes into space, he reminded his teammates that soccer is not possible without spinning with each other. His entry did not mean that Llorente delayed his position. Among the remedies that Simeone is looking for to get out of the pothole, the penultimate has been to place him behind the wheel as a striker. In the last meters his explosiveness is definitive to break into space. And that’s what he did when Correa saw him out of the corner of his eye that was doubled over. Llorente’s center was caught by Morata at the far post. Atlético was another.
More established and with less need to defend in his area. Just in case, Simeone brought on Saúl for Morata, put Correa ahead and delayed Llorente. An elbow from Kondogbia to Alex Muñoz in a header jump in the area returned his concern. The VAR determined that it was not a penalty. The action and the subsequent entry of Soldado led to a final charge from Levante. A bombardment of lateral centers that did little to rush Oblak and his centrals. Until Llorente confirmed that his place in soccer is from the midfield forward to finish off a counter in which Correa also intervened and even Molina hit the last pass. That so primary and decisive in football.
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