In the next couple of days we’ll get match reports from some top clubs. Frankly, I don’t think our style of play can really produce goals against top teams, and I’m not entirely sure how to fix that. If we keep defending as we have, though, we’ll collect a ton of points against ‘the rest’ and find ourselves in Europe no problem.
The Atleti Match
I’ve never seen Sergio Asenjo run that far out of his box before… I don’t know what he was thinking. He runs out there, a bad clearance lands right at the feet of Marcos Llorente, who then lobs it 30 yards into the goal. It was a play that was as stupid as possible right on the stroke of halftime and for that to be the first goal we had given up in over five games I was just devastated. At halftime, we bring on Bruno and Pena to try to give our side a much needed boost. We switched to a 4222 and we pressed.
After getting back level, we give up a run to Joao Felix on the back post and get scored on by a teenager. Then we draw level AGAIN as Toko Ekambi draws a penalty and Ontiveros converts… things looked like we had an exciting and well earned 2-2 until disaster struck and yep, you guessed it, Ramiro Funes Mori hacks down an Atleti player in the box and Thomas Lemar slots home a penalty in the 90th minute. As we scrambled in an all out assault to get level again Alvaro Morata got a counter attacking goal but the scoreline didn’t reflect the match. We should have gotten a result but our own stupidity cost us.
This is football, and this is all too familiar. We had a chance for a great point earned against a top side and as much as I feel like some things this season have been my fault, I truly believe this was entirely outside of my control. I doubt the supporters feel the same way.
A routine but much needed 2-0 at Leganes lifted our spirits and got our defense back on track as Toko and Gerard got the goals. After that we traveled to Sevilla where we got absolutely outplayed but somehow held on for a 0-0 draw. It’s ugly but we’re defensively determined and it collects points.
Then, disaster struck, we lost Sergio Asenjo for three months. I really should have seen it coming, to be fair.
After Sevilla we hosted Levante and expecting a reasonably easy win I rotated the squad some. It didn’t quite how I planned. A 4’ Toko goal was leveled by a Pau Torres OG, and a mad game ensued. Toko got a brace but we were down 3-2 in the 90’ and getting desperate. A through ball in to Toko resulted in him getting taken down in the box and Santi Cazorla saved us major blushes in a 3-3 draw.
Barcelona at home. This will be a great test of our mettle and to see what we are made up. Then Eibar at home and a trip to Mallorca. Realistically, six points need to come out of these three games. I’d like to get more but honestly as long as we don’t embarrass ourselves against Barca I’ll be fine. We’re sitting in 7th, but there’s a dog pile for places. If matches like the Levante one are an aberration I think we can make Europe no problem.
Toko Ekambi has 8 goals. Notable roster situations... Santi is firmly a substitute at this point, who fills in both as a ‘winger’ and also in the AM role. Trigueros, Iborra, and Morlanes/Demme are the preffered midfielders right now. Bruno and Demme specifically are a curious comparison. Bruno without question has much more quality, but the team performs better when Demme is in because he does a job recovering the ball. As our identity has turned into one where keeping a clean sheet is priority number one, the lack of pace and defensive brought by Bruno and Santi means I just can’t start them.
Also notable is that Ontiveros has the left wing spot on lock down. He works hard, he has quality, he has potential. Frankly he’s been playing better than Chukwueze as of late.