How Atletico Madrid’s drastic rebuild has left Diego Simeone stumbling

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With 80 minutes played at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, Atletico Madrid seemed set for another of the drab but efficient 1-0 victories so common during Diego Simeone’s time as rojiblanco coach.

Diego Costa’s first half penalty – awarded for a handball picked up by VAR – had Atletico ahead of a Valencia team who had improved after the break but not yet seriously threatened Jan Oblak’s goal.

But this is a different Atletico season, and things that should not go wrong keep going wrong.

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The first warning sign was Portuguese starlet Joao Felix limping off after what had seemed an innocuous midfield challenge, leaving his side with 10 men as all three changes were already made.

Almost immediately Valencia captain Dani Parejo scored an absolute beauty of a free-kick equaliser, with his 25-yard strike swerving over the wall and away from even Oblak’s telescopic reach. The mood swung completely, and the Atletico keeper soon had to make a superb save to stop Parejo making it 2-1. There was also time for a red card for a wild hack by the visitors’ teenage South Korean substitute Kang In Lee.

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All the unexpected excitement meant the home fans were very down at the final whistle. After starting 2019/20 with three straight wins, Simeone’s side now have just one more victory – and only three goals scored – across their last six La Liga games.

Even more worrying for Colchoneros fans

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