Despite having to watch from the stands due to a touchline ban, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone got his tactics spot on again as his side claimed another win at city rivals Real Madrid on Saturday.
Atletico’s 2-1 La Liga victory marked the first time they have won two matches in a row at the Bernabeu stadium and followed their 2-1 aggregate triumph over their crosstown rivals in the season-opening Spanish Super Cup.
The visitors took a 10th-minute lead thanks to Tiago’s close-range header but surrendered control of the game for the rest of the first half and Cristiano Ronaldo levelled from the penalty spot in the 29th minute.
After a tight opening to the second half, Simeone played his hand and brought on Turkey playmaker Arda Turan and France forward Antoine Griezmann and switched Spain midfielder Koke to the middle.
The bold tactical shift paid off handsomely as Arda finished off a fine move down the right with a first-time strike into the bottom corner of the net 14 minutes
from time. “I think we started well in the first half and later I didn’t like the way the team was playing,” Simeone told a news conference.
“In the second half with Koke in the centre we had more control and Arda gave us more creativity and Griezmann more pace,” added the Argentine who led Atletico to their first La Liga title in 18 years last season. “The tactical changes worked very well and in the final 15 minutes we were playing in exactly the way we are looking to.
“What I am most pleased about today is that the players who came off the bench did what we were expecting of them and did it well.”
Saturday’s win bodes well for Atletico’s opening Champions League Group A match at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.
Atletico reached the final last season where they were beaten 4-1 by Real after extra time.
After losing top scorer Diego Costa to Chelsea, Atletico appear to have made some astute signings and Simeone has a squad that looks strong enough to mount a genuine challenge for silverware.