When the final whistle blew, Diego Simeone started celebrating in typical Simeone fashion, quickly sprinting into the dressing room as Man United boss Ralf Rangnick watched the scene from the side with a stony expression. Two opposite feelings.
Also because Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak – unlike his teammates – warmed up quickly. After about 20 minutes, the Rojiblancos Road, Simeone Road, which in general was not particularly attractive but efficient, gradually took root.
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The master builders of Manzanares once again proved that they belong to the best of their profession, even the CR7, which has recently succeeded three times, remains in a losing position.
Three things popped up.
1. Atlético’s disgusting tactic worked – again
Simeone has been coach of the capital since 2011, and under his auspices, the Colchoneros team won two Spanish championships, twice in the European League, and twice reached the final of the Champions League.
Successes that do not come by chance, successes that are based on a simple principle as it is known: successful defense. Simeone has perfected the walls and polished them with individual offensive jabs. Some might consider philosophy a disgusting tactic, and defensive friends might call the whole thing complicated.
While Atletico’s defense – unlike in the past – has struggled in the domestic league this season, they showed their traditional face once again at Old Trafford on Wednesday night. With a largely secure defense system, the Madridists quickly switched over and over and made promising counterattacks before the break.
Renan Lodi scored the evening’s goal
Image source: Getty Images
After Joao Felix’s goal was disallowed because teammate Llorente was offside, Renan Lodi converted Griezmann’s superb cross with a header a few moments later to make it 1-0 (40).
After that, Simeone-Elf focused on their core business again. Because ManUnited couldn’t think of anything, especially after changing sides, Lodi’s goal was enough. Minimalism at Atlético par excellence.
2. The goalkeeper towers above
With all the praise for Simeone’s simplicity – the fact that it was enough to overcome it thanks to the protagonist of the Builder’s Guild: goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
In the 14th minute, the Slovenian happily parried a shot from close range with his header, and as the match progressed he proved his abilities on the line several times.
Especially when he saved Raphael Varane with a superb header ten minutes from the end of time. In the end, five were saved in the statistics books.
His colleague Koke found the goalkeeper extravagant after the match: “For me, he’s the best goalkeeper in the world. He showed it again tonight.”
Opinions may differ on this topic, but one thing is indisputable: Oblak has been one of the absolute elite goalkeepers in the world for many years.
3. Ronaldo is like a broken stone battling
Accordingly, all hopes were pinned on Wednesday night for CR7 having a great day. Equipped with a clear tailwind, the veteran made a promising start in the first few minutes, making attack after attack.
However, as the guests became more confident, Ronaldo’s thirst for action steadily decreased. In the second round in particular, he was more of a brawler than a spur. Waving, shaking your head, scolding – the entire keyboard of resentment.
Understandably, after all, the attacking fellows were barely able to shed light on him. The bitter number of Ronaldo’s evening used: the five-times world footballer did not put a single ball into the opponent’s goal.
The striker has only faced such damage twice in his glorious Champions League career. In November 2003, he crowned a newly-professional team with United against Panathinaikos of Athens, and in May 2011 he played for Real Madrid against arch-rivals FC Barcelona.
Against the wall of Atlético, the breaker he had hoped from Manchester’s point of view found no way around him.
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