A goal in each half from Diego Godín and Antoine Griezmann helped prolong Atlético Madrid’s fine form against Granada and ensured they remain in second place in La Liga.
Diego Simeone’s side traveled to Granada knowing they had the mental advantage over the home side; Granada are still searching for their first La Liga win over Los Rojiblancos since 1973. As such, it did not take long for the away side to threaten, with Fernando Torres having a great chance to open the scoring early on. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco delivered a teasing ball for the former Chelsea striker however he failed to properly connect with it, much to Granada keeper Andrés Fernández’s delight. The Fernández was called into action soon after when Koke shot on goal, which he comfortably saved.
Atléti’s dominance eventually bore fruit, with a well-deserved goal, Diego Godín rising highest and unmarked to head in from Koke’s delightful corner kick. Godín raced down the sidelines to give support to injured teammate Tiago, lifting a t-shirt in tribute to the midfielder. Granada would have their own chances but failed to trouble Jan Oblak in goal, with Rubén Rochina and Babin wasting glorious chances to equalise.
The second half began as the first started, with Atléti threatening early. Filipe Luís had a great chance to double the advantage but somehow managed to miss the target. Not long after, Godín again latched onto a cross, although this time he failed to hit the target with his header. That miss nearly turned costly for the away side as Issac Success dribbled past Atléti’s defenders and took a shot that drew a neat save from Oblak.
Torres nearly then had a chance to finally score that long awaited 100th goal, but was denied by Fernández. The Granada goalkeeper would have no chance moments later against Antoine Griezmann’s strike in the 76th minute, when the Frenchman smashed the ball in the back of the net to seal victory for the away side. Simeone’s men would see out the win that maintains their place in second, now only two points adrift of league leaders Barcelona following their draw against Valencia. Granada, on the other hand, now sit in 17th and only a point above relegation.
@DannyRaynard Antoine Griezmann’s season by numbers: 27 chances created 14 games 7 goals 2 assists
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 5, 2015
Formations and Lineups
Simeone maintained his reliable 4-4-2 formation and made little change to the side that overcame Espanyol last weekend. As the extent of Tiago’s injury was confirmed as a leg break, ruling out the experienced midfielder indefinitely, Saúl Ñíguez kept his place in the starting XI alongside Gabi who reclaimed his starting position after suspension. Impressive summer signing Carrasco replaced Óliver Torres, and Fernando Torres was given another chance to score his 100th goal for Atléti, birthday boy Luciano Vietto making way for him. Sandoval on the other hand, made big changes to his side following Granada’s draw against Malaga last weekend. Firstly, he changed from his 4-2-3-1 formation to a 4-4-2 to match the away side. Miguel Lopes, Uche, Javi Márquez and Robert Ibáñez were all replaced by Rochina, El-Arabi, Foulquier and Rubén Pérez. This fresh group came into the side with the hope of getting the three points.
Each fixture Atléti showcase how potent their aerial threat is. Last week saw numerous chances wasted by Godín following set pieces, but he would make up for last week’s profligacy this week. The centre back would not waste his opportunity and he scored to give Atléti a well-deserved lead. Granada struggled to cope with aerial bombardment that Simeone’s men brought to the match, and they’re not alone in finding it difficult to cope with physically strong and fierce Atléti side. With rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid tending to operate with the ball on the turf, Atléti aerial dominance could be an intriguing difference in the battle for La Liga glory this season.
8 – Diego Godín has scored more headers than any other defender in the top five European leagues since 2013/14. Pharaoh. — OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 5, 2015
Another win, another clean sheet. Atléti have now gone four consecutive fixtures in La Liga without conceding a goal. Jan Oblak has now gone nine games without conceding, currently the best in La Liga. Granada had 18 shots with three on target, however could not beat the young goalkeeper. Jesús Gámez and Stefan Savić came into the side when Juanfran and José Giménez were injured and gave suggestion for a extended run in the starting XI. However, today’s fixture shows just why Simeone continues to rely on his defensive core; they remain the best in the league. This clean sheet maintained an impressive defensive run so far this season, with Atléti having conceded only seven goals. Simeone’s decision to stick with his first choice defenders continues to prove fruitful for Atléti with the Madrid side now two points behind league leaders Barcelona.
Tiago’s replacement proves effective
Much attention this week for Atléti has been on the unfortunate injury to key centre midfielder Tiago. However for the second game in a row, Saúl has excelled in the centre, giving a tireless display before being replaced by fellow impressive youngster Óliver. Whilst not being as strong defensively, or nearly ass imposing as Tiago, Saúl has the ability to cover the whole pitch as well a smart contributor in attack, having scored the opening goal midweek in the Copa del Rey. Moreover, his partnership with captain Gabi has shown real promise with the duo ensuring that Atléti dominated possession comfortably.
Again, this was another superb display by Atléti, particularly in defence. There is concern over the strikers’ habit of missing too many chances, a habit which puts extra pressure on the defenders to not concede. Granada had 18 shots and 11 were wayward, however a more accurate side may trouble Simeone’s side in their quest for regaining La Liga title. Atléti failed to score the important second goal until late in the second half with Granada having opportunities to level the scores. While Atléti was impressive in maintaining possession and threatening with chances, if Simeone wants to challenge Barcelona and Real Madrid for the league title, they cannot afford to waste so many gilt-edged opportunities.