Atletico de Madrid, 2019-20: Rebuilding

bosox4283

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Atletico is officially in the rebuild mode.

In addition to losing Griezmann, the team has lost it's heart-and-soul, Diego Godin, who has is reportedly moving on to Inter. Juanfran, another one of the team's stalwarts and a defender that Simeone trusts, has left the club. Lucas Hernandez was bought by Bayern Munich. And, now, it seems that Rodrigo Hernandez is on his way to ManCity.

More later about the incoming players...
 

bosox4283

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Atletico has spent big money in this transfer period, mostly reinvesting what it has made in selling transfers. Griezmann is off to Barcelona for 120m euros, Lucas Hernandez to Bayern for 80m euros, and Rodri(go) Hernandez to ManCity for 70m euros, giving the club about 250m euros to spend.

Atletico has been ambitious, signing Joao Felix from Benfica for 120m euros, Marcos Llorente from Real Madrid for 40m euros, Mario Hermoso from Espanyol for 25m euros, Trippier from Tottenham also 25m euros, Renan Lodi from Athletico Paranaense for 20-25m euros, and Felipe from Porto for about 20m euros.

My back-of-the-napkin math seems to be that Atletico is about at break-even this off-season.

The team had to design its defense about Godin, Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis, and Juanfran all moved on.

With Griezmann gone, Atletico had to find that game-changing talent and a start, so Joao Felix, despite his age (just 19!), looks to be that player.

And, finally, with Simeone losing his midfielder that controls the pace, Marcos Llorente steps in to replace Rodri.
 

bosox4283

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This preseason has served to give Atletico fans a boost of confidence heading into the season. The team destroyed Real Madrid, winning 7-3, and has played solid football in all matches.

The first highlight, by far, is Joao Felix. Given his goals, assists, and play-making, Joao looks like he'll become a bargain at 120M euros. His arrival has really made Griezmann's departure easier to accept.

While Joao has been the star, Simeone has once again given his team the stability it needs. Koke and Saul remain pillars. Lemar looks to be back in form, as does Vitolo. Hector Herrera and Marcos Llorente have adapted well.

For the first match against Getafe, I suspect Simeone will go with (Costa, who is now injured, is suspended after his outburst against Barcelona from last season):

Oblak
Trippier-Savic-Gimenez-Lodi
Koke-Thomas-Saul-Lemar
Joao-Morata

First three off bench: Vitolo, Llorente, Hector Herrera
 

Dummy Hoy

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How has the back line looked without Godin? I know he has slowed perceptibly, but he’s so smart and commanding. Having Oblak helps and Gimenez is a stud who can only have benefitted from playing alongside. Still, seems a potential challenge.
 

bosox4283

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How has the back line looked without Godin? I know he has slowed perceptibly, but he’s so smart and commanding. Having Oblak helps and Gimenez is a stud who can only have benefitted from playing alongside. Still, seems a potential challenge.
The answer is that we don't yet know. Since Gimenez played in the Copa America, he missed most of the preseason and only played one match. Savic and Gimenez, if they end up being the starting pair, have played together in the past so they should quickly find their rhythm.

Mario Hermoso is a strong player that, hopefully, gets better under Simeone's eye. Felipe, the Brazilian center back from Porto, has the age and experience to contribute.

But the team will miss Godin, and if/when Savic or Gimenez go down with an injury or experience a dip in form, the pressure is on Hermoso and Felipe to replace Godin's consistency, which is a tough task.
 

bosox4283

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Atletico starts off the year looking strong with three wins in as many games. Joao Felix looks really sharp and has showed his talent in the first few matches.

In typical Atleti fashion, the transfer window period ended with confusion. Simeone wanted to sign Rodrigo from Valencia, a move that (supposedly and reportedly) required Milan buying Correa for about 50M euros. The dominoes did not fall, leaving Atletico with only two true strikers in Morata and Costa when Simeone wanted a third.

The club then offered the explanation that it could not sign Rodrigo given its net-negative transfer total over the last two seasons. Fans who can do basic math on the back of a napkin realized that something is off since the publicly released numbers would suggest that the team was in a much better financial position.

Overall, I think the team has enough firepower to keep winning, but I see Simeone's point: if Morata or Costa go down, he then has to use Felix, Vitolo, Correa, or even Thomas Partey in the striker role.
 

Zososoxfan

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Atletico starts off the year looking strong with three wins in as many games. Joao Felix looks really sharp and has showed his talent in the first few matches.

In typical Atleti fashion, the transfer window period ended with confusion. Simeone wanted to sign Rodrigo from Valencia, a move that (supposedly and reportedly) required Milan buying Correa for about 50M euros. The dominoes did not fall, leaving Atletico with only two true strikers in Morata and Costa when Simeone wanted a third.

The club then offered the explanation that it could not sign Rodrigo given its net-negative transfer total over the last two seasons. Fans who can do basic math on the back of a napkin realized that something is off since the publicly released numbers would suggest that the team was in a much better financial position.

Overall, I think the team has enough firepower to keep winning, but I see Simeone's point: if Morata or Costa go down, he then has to use Felix, Vitolo, Correa, or even Thomas Partey in the striker role.
Most importantly, I agree that the squad has enough firepower to challenge for the La Liga title. However, what are you talking about with the second part of the bolded? If only one of Morata/Costa go down, the other one becomes the starting No. 9 and the other players you mentioned can function as a secondary attacker (7, 8, 10, 11, etc.). Is your/Simeone's point that Atleti can't utilize a traditional 4-4-2 in the injury hypothetical? If so, it's not a problem unique to Atleti. Most of the megaclubs have similar issues where the best 14-15 players may not have 1-for-1 backups for the most in-demand roles. Barca doesn't have a bona fide backup No. 9 for Luisito for example.
 

bosox4283

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Most importantly, I agree that the squad has enough firepower to challenge for the La Liga title. However, what are you talking about with the second part of the bolded? If only one of Morata/Costa go down, the other one becomes the starting No. 9 and the other players you mentioned can function as a secondary attacker (7, 8, 10, 11, etc.). Is your/Simeone's point that Atleti can't utilize a traditional 4-4-2 in the injury hypothetical? If so, it's not a problem unique to Atleti. Most of the megaclubs have similar issues where the best 14-15 players may not have 1-for-1 backups for the most in-demand roles. Barca doesn't have a bona fide backup No. 9 for Luisito for example.
Thanks for asking. It seems that Simeone wanted to enter the season playing with two strikers, with Morata and Costa at the same time. Perhaps this strategy would evolve or wouldn't work, but having the third striker would allow the team to retain this formation even if Morata or Costa went down with injury. So far, Simeone has yet to be able to use this model since Costa missed the first two games with suspension and injury, and with Morata now out with a knee issue.

I don't know if two strikers will help the team score more goals, but it's an exciting possibility and certainly reflects Simeone's interest in going for it a bit more.
 

bosox4283

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Atletico is really struggling to score goals, a problem which has cost Atletico two recent victories against Valencia (1-1 draw after a late Valencia tying goal) and Alaves (1-1 draw after a late Alaves goal). Let's be a bit fair: Atletico lost Griezmann and there is no one there to replacement him at the moment. Joao Felix is still just 19 and is finding his form on the team and Angel Correa does not have Girezmann's consistency or skill.

But most of the midfielders and strikers are the same from last year and I'd argue that the fullbacks are better this year than last year. So, at this point, the lack of goals has to be squarely on Simeone's tactics and style.

Simeone needs to find a way to open up the offense. While the defense is playing high quality, which is notable after having to more or less configure the back line, the struggle to score will prevent Atletico from fighting for La Liga title and making a run in the Champions League.

I don't know enough about football tactics to offer a suggestion or pinpoint what the issue is. I'd like to see a bit more of Vitolo and maybe less of Koke. Lemar and Joao Felix need to step up their games. Diego Costa needs to get hot. But, overall, Simeone needs to find a different rhythm and gear.
 

trs

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One (added a few more...) quick observation I've had, and it's not really related to "tactics," is that frenzied pace that Atletico seem to keep regardless of whether they have the ball or not. They're organized and quick on defense, that is for sure, and with the exception of the goal last night, they close on the ball quickly and effectively. However, once they gain possession it seems like always a massive hurry to get rid of it again or if you're name is Angel Correa, put your head down and go for goal -- though this has led to the last three scores, so perhaps there's something there... This pace has led to some ugly futbol and a general lack of control.

First touches have also been abrupt. This can't continue if Atletico want sustained pressure or quick counters.

Lastly, in terms of players, Costa is well past his ability to race ahead and receive long balls and then score. He will race ahead, but then he looks for a whistle bail out. Morata has been less than clinical and does best, it seems, when not racing full steam ahead. Koke and Saul have been surprisingly inconsistent in their attacks. Partey continues to be a mystery -- I love the guy and his control last night on the play that led to Atleti's third real goal scoring opportunity was almost unbelievable, but he too can disappear for stretches.

Oh well, it's a frustrating year, especially given the how wide open the league has been. Go Granada!
 

bosox4283

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Atletico loses yesterday 0-1 to Barcelona. Yes, Messi's goal was spectacular -- the movement, the give-and-go with Suarez, the control, the shot. At the same time, Atletico turned the ball over in a poor spot, was a bit sluggish on defensive, and shied away from the tactical foul on Messi.

More than anything, Atletico continues to sputter on offensive. The team generated some great chances this match only to see Ter Stegen show why he's one of the best in the world.

I know that Simeone trusts Koke as Koke understands Simeone's system better than anyone, but I'd almost like to see the team play without him. At the very least, maybe this switch would free up Atletico to move differently or try some new tactics.