Supported by a superlative Oblak, Atlético came out alive from Vila-Real. Scratch a point, but Simeone's team missed an opportunity to strike at the table before what happened at the Bernabéu. Yes against Betis he signed a champion matchagainst Villarreal was a minor team, broken and unbalanced, although that was the first and great intention of his coach.
At the La Ceramica stadium, Simeone put concrete. A lot, maybe too much for what was seen in the first half. Nine days has been slow to give way to the starting quarter: Saul, Thomas, Rodrigo and Koke. A composition that for a coach of his lineage is an unwavering temptation to form a stone team. Your coach self demands those decisions as a nicotine smoker. And it will be demanded on more occasions throughout the season. Whenever Simeone sees a point of risk, Atlético will be a cement machine supported by its four midfielders. Villarreal has always been an uncomfortable square in the Simeone era. And the rojiblanco coach also fears like a cloudy return after international commitments. So he opted for that team formed for the combat of trenches in the middle of the field. More designed to win by demolition, by a second float ball or a hairstyle and a filtered fast pass, than by finesse. So he wanted to pupa Villarreal and did little or nothing. Al Villarreal was enough to narrow to drown Griezmann and Koke, and thereby short-circuit any clean connection with Kalinic.
Villarreal: Asenjo; Mario Gaspar, Álvaro, Funes Mori, Jaume Costa; Trigueros, Iturra (Bacca, min 64 (Ekambi, min 76)); Pedraza (Cáseres, min 73), Cazorla, Fornals; and Gerard Moreno.
Athletic: Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Lucas Hernández, Filipe Luis (Godín, min 77); Thomas, Rodri Hernández (Lemar, min 46), Saúl, Koke; Griezmann and Kalinic (Correa, min 46).
Goals: 0-1, min. 51: Filipe Luis. 1-1, min. 65: Mario Gaspar.
Referee: Estrada Fernández. He admonished Iturra (min.31), Álvaro (min.44) and Pedraza (min.68) from Villarreal; and Juanfran (min 28) at Atlético de Madrid.
Stadium: Ceramic Stadium, 17,518 spectators.
Villarreal felt the sensation of feeling more comfortable during several passages of the first act in which he sought to win the back of Rodrigo, Thomas, Filipe and Juanfran, either with Fornals, or with Pedraza and Gerard Moreno. Always with Cazorla and Trigueros to play in the triangulations before accelerating. The first gave a clinic to play well from the wisdom of the game of the veteran rebounded. Few touches and rapids, but always in the right space. The second, every time that Atlético is measured, takes out that version that places him among the best midfielders of the championship, although he is little recognized.
Villarreal managed on several occasions to skip the levee of the four midfielders, sometimes too easily, and hurried to Oblak. To a center behind Jaume Costa, a rascal to get away after a rejection in a corner, Gerard Moreno did not reach for a finger and Funes Mori burst his shot against Rodrigo. Soon, a simple Asenjo long ball run by Pedraza to the back of Juanfran and well touched by the yellow midfielder did not end in goal because Fornals did not adjust well the ankle twist from the front of area. Atletico replied with a raid on the left that Koke topped in the air and the ball crashed into the hand of Álvaro. Neither Estrada Fernández, nor Hernández Hernández with the VAR visionado, decreed a penalty. The decision contraindicates what was indicated by Pierluigi Collina, director of arbitration of FIFA, during the World Cup: any contact of the ball when a player has his upper limbs placed in an unnatural manner is a penalty. Therefore, a similar move was noted as such in the Moscow final between France and Croatia. If something is claimed for the VAR it is a greater unification in the criteria. A good maneuver by Kalinic, after Saúl's hairstyle, was the last offensive sign of Atlético in the first half.
The match player
Simeone understood that the team needed more play in three quarters and put Lemar and Correa by Kalinic and Rodrigo. The French placed him behind Griezmann and Thomas on the pivot with Saul. It is curious to see that Simeone again dispensed with Rodrigo, the most positional player who has to play in the middle. Also the one who believes most in the control of the matches through the ball. Right now, Koke and Saul, by hierarchy, are untouchable. The change in the medium, yes or yes, or is Rodrigo or Thomas. Despite advancing on the scoreboard, with the carambola of head won by Filipe Luis, after Asenjo's pardon to a poisoned detour of his teammate Funes Mori, Atlético was a broken match and frayed. Delivered and vulnerable to the speed of Fornals and Bacca when it entered.
Cornered daringly Calleja team to Simeone to make Oblak the player of the game. The Slovenian could not do anything when Mario Gaspar pushed the ball from the edge of the small area to tie, after a move defended with great warmth by the athletic defense. Excited and decided the Villarreal, it arrived the hour of Oblak. First to get a hand to hand to Gerard Moreno, prompted by a poor delivery of Thomas at the start of the game. A very common mistake in the Ghanaian, who is a better player the further away from his area he plays. Then, Oblak held Bacca, rushing to get the fingertips to get the ball.
In that enthusiasm, focused on seeking victory, Villarreal could fall if Lemar had directed well a frentazo with sold Asenjo. It would have been very unfair. If a team deserved to win that was Villarreal. Without so much cement of beginning and with more soccer.