With the victory in Cádiz, Atlético added 50 points in their first 19 league games. The same as in the first round of the 13-14 season, in which he achieved that score for the first time in history and ended up winning the title. Diego Pablo Simeone settles the comparisons between the 2014 team and the current one from his realistic roundness. He wields the obvious difference in the composition of the squads and that he already figures in history as a champion and this one has yet to be established. The comparison on some of the most significant features from those 50 points achieved shows substantial similarities and differences, from relying on two sober goalkeepers like Courtois or Oblak and on two lethal, but very different forwards like Diego Costa and Luis Suárez who mark the how to get to the goal.
The trainer’s mark survives in this Atlético as the maker of two signature teams marked by defensive strength. With a line of four or with three centrals like now, with Courtois or Oblak, the number of goals conceded is similar (11 versus 10). The Belgian received 8.9 shots per game and the Slovenian, 9.7. And with one drawing or another, the importance of the wings in the offensive game is also key. Neither Trippier nor Carrasco reach the prominence that Filipe Luis had as a natural start for the team, but they also aspire to win the baseline as much as the Brazilian and Juanfran. If anything, the turnaround has been to the right. If Filipe was the team’s fourth player in passes per game (41), Trippier (51) is now. In this section, nothing like the records of the centrals to establish a notable difference between the difference in the handling of the ball from behind. Mario Hermoso is the player of the leader who gives the most passes (67), many of them assuming unthinkable traits in Godín (34) and Miranda (28). The Uruguayan and the Brazilian almost always played long for Diego Costa and on most occasions looking for the second play. Although less daring than Hermoso, the passes of Savic (52) and Giménez (50) also describe a team that elaborates more than the one that was crowned in 2014. The number of occasions in which they invade the opposite field to play the ball or to anticipate is also a notable hallmark.
Possession is also significant in this regard, with 54% currently in possession of the ball compared to 47% then. Atlético was champion more from the Cartesian domain of space than from the ball. Koke, the only surviving starter of the two stages, played more down to the left wing, from where he became the main pitcher of David Villa and, above all, of Diego Costa, whom he fed in five of the 19 goals that he Hispano-Brazilian scored in the first round. Koke now plays more focused and has more gallons in the team’s game weight. The increase in his number of passes per game, from 44 to 61, is also relevant. None of the midfielders from seven years ago had so many passes per game: Gabi (54), Tiago (51) and Mario Suárez (46). Koke is also now the captain of a younger and less experienced team that does not have a hard core of veterans such as Gabi, Godín, Miranda, Filipe, Villa and Tiago. Players who distilled the rocky profile of a team that was the king of tactical foul with Gabi at the helm. The physiognomy of the campus has also changed. In the attempt of the club and Simeone to improve the game, investments in talented players grew until they formed the latter squad in which Torreira, Kondogbia and Saúl had trouble finding a place against Koke, Lemar, João Félix, Correa and Carrasco. Arda on the eleven of 2014 was a unique species.
Beyond the five changes that the narrowness of the calendar has brought about due to the pandemic, Simeone won that League with a base of 14 players and in this, at least 18 have a relevant role.
The pressure zone is another differential element, although not the intensity. The team from the 13-14 season only advanced the pressure line in home games. Usually in the first half hour. Outside, they wrote a treatise on the art of withdrawal. With the score in favor with a simple 1-0, the feeling they transmitted was that of being already unapproachable for their rivals.
The forcefulness in the opposite area is supported in both cases by two sweet scorers such as Diego Costa (19) and Luis Suárez (14) at the end of the championship halfway through. However, the path to them is another point of distancing. With the first, Atlético played more space and counter, starting from their own field. With the Uruguayan, the team treads more on the opposite field and with more troops. Simeone assured that the arrival of Suárez conditioned the mutation to which he has subjected the attack game. Although this Atlético also retreats, in the vast majority of the matches it presses on the opposite field to surround the Uruguayan with players who supply it in the vicinity of the area.
With all these features, this Atlético now faces the second round in which there is also a crucial difference. On January 10, 2014, at the end of the first round, he reached that stratospheric figure of 50 points, but so did Tata Martino’s Barcelona. In third position, already three points, Madrid was in the race for the title. Simeone and his players had to fight him and win that championship with 90 points against Barcelona and Real Madrid with the best Messi and the best Cristiano Ronaldo. Now they are 10 points behind and with one more game than Atlético. And the Portuguese is gone and the Argentine is not what he was.