Atlético has not quite found its way in the Champions League. And when it seems that he finds it A stranger dressed in yellow appears to score the tying goal in the last play of the game.
Provedel, the Lazio goalkeeper, equalized the match when there was no time left for anything. He headed in a cross from Luis Alberto as if that were what he does every day. As if he didn’t make a living by avoiding goals instead of scoring them.
Until then, Atlético lived on a goal from Pablo Barrios. The youth player, at only 20 years old, bears the responsibility of replacing Koke, Atlético’s captain, the player who best represents the essence of the red-and-white club. And he does it without a reproach and with success, despite the fact that this position in front of the defense is not the most common for him.
But Barrios’ path is probably to follow Koke’s path, take his place on the field and in the locker room, although it is still early for all that. The two have overcome, each in their own time, the prejudices of Simeone, who finds it so difficult to use the youth team. Furthermore, both have similar origins. Koke, from the City of Taxi Drivers in Vallecas; Pablo, from Moratalaz. Neighboring neighborhoods and similar personalities.
The young youth squad doesn’t have the team weighing on his back and he has enough determination to reach the area and score Atlético’s goal. And he only needed half a game to do it and to show his importance in the team, also to support him in defense when necessary.
Barrios did not return to the field after the break due to some discomfort, but he had been the most outstanding for Atlético, managing the game in attack and plugging holes in defense. One more misfortune for Atlético to add to the multiple injuries the team is suffering from.
His goal came when the game promised something else, when Lazio appeared more in Oblak’s area than Atlético in Provedel’s area. And after scoring he showed his commitment to the locker room in the celebration by showing a T-shirt of Lemar, his teammate who was seriously injured in the sinking last Saturday at Mestalla.
It seemed like a match for Luis Alberto, the Spanish midfielder through whom the Italian team spends their entire game. At least that’s how it was in the first minutes. Luis Alberto was in all of them, but Lazio did not reach the goal with too much danger. And when he did, like a Kamada shot, Oblak was there to cover. Luck was not on Lazio’s side either, as they lost their left back, Pellegrini, to injury in the first half.
The sign that Atlético was not comfortable in those first minutes is that Simeone and Griezmann saw the yellow card. Atlético found tranquility in the goal and then in the plays of Griezmann and in the entry of Riquelme on the left side, in the position that Carrasco occupied before leaving for Arabia and that he is now arguing with Samuel Lino.
The Brazilian had one of Atlético’s best opportunities to finish the game, in a volley shot after poor control that was stopped by the Lazio goalkeeper. Before Morata had sent a ball to the post which could also have been definitive.
Griezmann had to be present in his field to support in defending the result. A job he is used to, but strange for any player of his category. Although That did not save Atlético from the final disappointment.
Lazio lineup: Provedel; Marusic, Patric, Romagnoli, Pellegrini; Vecino, Kamada, Luis Alberto; Philip Anderson; Immobile, Zacagni
Atlético lineup: Oblak; Molina, Savic, Witsel, Hermoso, Lino; Barrios, Marcos Llorente, Saúl; Morata and Griezmann.