Simeone keeps changing tack – and it’s not working – The Athletic

The 1,000-strong travelling AC Milan contingent at the Wanda Metropolitano were overjoyed and aimed their not-at-all-printable chants at former Inter midfielder Diego Simeone.

The Atletico Madrid coach was down on one knee at the edge of his technical area, stroking his chin, with his team’s chances of progress in this season’s Champions League on a knife edge.

Milan sub Junior Messias’ crashing 87th-minute header had given the visitors a deserved lead and they held on without much bother for a victory which keeps their hopes of progress alive, meaning that Atletico go into the final round of games bottom of the group.

It is not the easiest group but still, Simeone’s team should not be in this position — the reigning La Liga champions strengthened their squad considerably last summer by signing Copa America winner Rodrigo De Paul and Olympic gold medallist Matias Cunha, then bringing back Antoine Griezmann on deadline day.

But the most talented Atletico squad of El Cholo’s time in charge has only won one of their first five Champions League group games — and that was at San Siro in September when they were being completely outplayed and 1-0 down when Franck Kessie got two yellow cards before half-time. They then took until 96th minute to complete the comeback against a 10-man Milan.

Otherwise, their European campaign, which began with an uninspiring 0-0 draw at home to Porto, has just never really got going.

Considering the importance of a win on Wednesday night, there was a surprising lack of urgency and energy about their first-half performance against Milan.

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