Angel Correa's excellent opener was canceled out but Rodrigo's fantastic finish as the two sides opened their domestic campaign with a 1-1 draw.

By 90Min
August 20, 2018

Atletico Madrid opened their La Liga campaign with a 1-1 draw against Valencia, in a match which swung back and forth wildly. Following on from their Super Cup win against city rivals Real Madrid in midweek, Los Rojiblancos' faltering second half performance saw their usually assured tactical mindset pack up and leave.

In an entertaining match, Atleti controlled first half proceedings. Angel Correa's opener gave the away side a deserved lead at the break, and they could've been out of sight if Diego Costa was slightly more accurate. However, Valencia regrouped at half time and came out much the better side, with Rodrigo's goal a just reward for their endeavours.

Appearing last out of La Liga's dominant trifecta, Atletico's draw already leaves them two points behind rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona. Results like these won't do them any good in trying to catch Spain's traditional powerhouses.


Key Talking Point

Missed chances. Both teams will rue the fact that they threw away great opportunities to take home the win. 

For Atletico Madrid, Diego Costa's chance to double his side's lead stands out. Dominating large spells of the first half, the Brazilian born bruiser flashed a shot just past Neto's far post. If it had found its way into the net, the game would've developed down a very different avenue.

With the clock ticking down and the midfield area liquidating into nothing, Daniel Wass had a great chance to steal a victory for the home side. Hitting Atleti on the counter, substitute Michy Batshuayi rolled in his teammate. A cross goal shot was well saved by Slovenian Jan Oblak, as the big man in net threw out his luminous gloves to make the stop.

Right at the death, there could have been quite the story. Signed from Valencia's opponents only last week, Kevin Gameiro collected Danel Wass' flick on. However, he failed to connect properly, and his attempt was easily gathered by Oblak. 


ATLETICO MADRID

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Oblak (7); Juanfran (6), Savic (5), Godin (5), Felipe Luis (6); Correa (7*), Koke (5), Saul (6) Lemar (4); Costa (5), Griezmann (6)

Substitutes: Vitolo (5), Martins (7), Thomas (N/A)


Star Man

Angel Correa

A lovely opening goal from Atleti, their slick passing move was finished by Angel Correa. Antoine Griezmann's fantastic reverse through ball beat a poorly executed offside trap, with Valencia's new right back Cristiano Piccini the man at fault.

Tiring late on, Correa was replaced by Thomas Partey with 10 minutes to go. Although he had a fairly average second half, nobody else in Atletico colors did enough to take the shine away from the diminutive Argentine.

Lacking cohesion in the final third as the game dragged on, Stefan Savic and Koke both had decent chances from corners that they sent wide. Some could say that Los Rojiblancos were lucky to get away with one point. 


Worst Player

Thomas Lemar

Coming in from Monaco this summer for a pricey sum of £60m, the French midfielder seemed out of sorts. Unsure of his role in the side, Lemar offered nothing and was removed just after the hour mark. 

With Vitolo showing glimpses, Diego Simeone has talent waiting in the wings if he chooses to head down a different route. It's doubtful the club's record signing would be benched after one game, but Lemar will need to improve.


VALENCIA 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Neto (6); Piccini (5), Garay (6), Paulista (6), Gaya (7); Soler (6), Parejo (6), Kondogbia (6) Wass (7); Rodrigo (8*), Santi Mina (7)

Substitutes: Gamiero (6), Diakhaby (5), Batshuayi (5)


Star Man

Rodrigo

The former Barca man showed class and intelligence to strike early in the second half. Currently watched by Real Madrid, the Spanish international became a danger as the game developed.

Overall, it could be suggested that Marcelino's side were slightly tentative in the first 45. Giving Los Rojiblancos too much respect throughout periods, the home team didn't offer anything in front of goal.

Much improved for the second half, Los Che forced Atletico back into the trenches. Showing confidence in attack, they deservedly found an equalizer.


Worst Player

Cristiano Piccini

Not exactly a horrible game from Valencia's right back, but he was a fault for Atletico's goal. Better in the second half, Piccini still gave zero in an attacking sense.

Only brought in from Sporting CP this summer, it may take Valencia's new boy time to adapt into Marcelino's system. Feasibly a communication error in defense, the failure to step out in unison left Correa with time to steer home.


Looking Ahead

Both teams will likely be frustrated with their inability to take all three points at the Mestalla, but there was certainly moments of great play from both.  

Los Rojiblancos gear up to take on Rayo Vallecano next Saturday, and they will be very confident about their chances of winning back at the Wanda Metropolitano.

If they are to challenge last season's runaway champions in the form of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid will need to have a near impeccable home record.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)