For some the result of the game was a big surprise and the fact that the champions were cornered in there own stadium and eliminated caused a lot of debate
One could argue that Simeone’s system is unappealing and a sore to the eye to watch but at the end we could only stand in awe to what I call a defensive masterclass by one of the most underrated coaches of the last 10 years.
Here is a breakdown of how the Colchoneros won at Anfield and qualified to the next stage of the competition.
The formation: 4-4-2 and nothing more
The Argentinian coach started the match with a classic 4-4-2 formation and made the midfield work double shifts by dropping back to the defence and covering the half spaces and the wings
Starting 11 :Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Felipe, Lodi; Correa, Partey, Saul, Koke; Joao Felix, Diego Costa
Get to know more about formations and systems here
Leave the ball to Liverpool
The Colchoneros through out the game hardly pressed Liverpool in their own and never tried to block the passing lines between the defenders and the midfielders and it was pretty obvious that Liverpool was stress free in the early stages of the attacks and could move the ball easily to the midfield but the tricky part and what Simeone was aiming for is keeping the 4-4-2 tight in the midfield so that it becomes nearly impossible to move the ball from the midfield to the attacks
Liverpool scored the first goal form an action that was repeated a lot and that was the only problem in of Athletico’s tactics. Fermino dropping to the midfield and creating 3vs2 situations which left Chamberlain free in the half spaces.
After the first goal Simeone made a move and changed the defensive movements of his team especially Correa and Saul that were tasked to mark Robertson and Arnold in the first half. After the goal was scored they would drop to the midfield whenever firmino came to create the 3 vs 2 situation so the only player left unmarked in this situation is the left or the right back in the opposite side of the ball.
Counters Counters and counters
Athletico had only one idea: we’ll suffer but we’ll qualify. They don’t want the ball for more than 30 seconds and when they got it they shift fast to find the spaces left by Robertson and Arnold and they use the minimum number of players to do so
Felix and Correa were enough with their speed and great movements with the ball and were hard to deal with after Athletico engaged in their flash attacks.
A hit and run strategy that allowed to score the goals needed to make the break.
Oblak turned into a mythical beast guarding the gates of Athletico’s realm and made outrageous saves during the game, saves that from a fan point of view were pieces of art.
On the other hand Adrian has one of the worst nights In his career. Nobody expected him to cover for Alison but he could have done better.
With all this being said and done Liverpool played a great game but Athletico were more clinical with the chances they have got.
When you play Simeone you should score from the little chances you get because you won’t get many.