Despite representing ALL the goals we’ve scored in La Liga this season, the attacking performance against Atleti was pretty dismal. As I mentioned to someone during the match, without Parejo we aren’t really a possession team, but without Samu we really aren’t a counter-attacking team, and so without them both we find ourselves in a bit of a mess (one that Danjuma at least somewhat addresses). To add to our woes, Gerard had a terrible match yesterday, and at least two chances that he should have taken first time he fumbled with needless touches.
On top of all of this, Boulaye Dia was absolutely absent. Check out our team passing map from yesterday:
Look how completely uninvolved he is. We know Dia has good holdup play qualities as a striker, but if he’s going to be that isolated we might as well play Paco up top because Alcacer is by far the more proven finisher. This may be something for Unai to think about going forward, favoring the Spaniard when we are likely to have fewer chances and using the catalyst Dia against teams where we could see more of the ball.
What I love about this particular passing map is the ‘passing net possession value’ metric it incorporates. In this particular image, the brighter yellow you see, the more dangerous that player was in progressing the ball. Look at Yeremi Pino. The young wide player had an absolutely magnificent game yesterday, and if he can play like that consistently then we have arguably Spain’s best young winger on our hands (he still needs to prove he can actually can be that consistent, though).
This image further accentuates how backed up we were yesterday. You see that our most common progressive passes were coming on long balls from the keeper, and that outside of Yeremi’s area there on the right we really didn’t have any attacking passes into the final third. Our buildup play was pretty much entirely in our own half.
Frankly, it’s miracle we tied that match, as gut wrenching as the ending was. We didn’t do anything productive offensively all night, and only the silliness of football and two great shots gave us goals. Believe it or not, we actually had more xG against Atleti than we had against Espanyol, which should tell you something about how broken this roster is right now. We really, really, really can’t get healthy soon enough.