In the 54th minute Antoine Griezmann came on. In the 55th he blasted home a goal which could end up taking Atletico Madrid to the title. But who takes the credit for his substitution?
Diego Simeone was banned, sitting in the presidential box like a caged tiger as his three-game suspension started, given to him for encouraging a ball-boy to throw a ball on the pitch last weekend to stop a Malaga counter-attack.
His assistant Mono Burgos was on charge on the touchline, but some have suggested that through goalkeeping coach Pablo Vercellone, whom Simeone was sitting next to and who was wearing a headset, he was communicating with Gabi in the second half.
After the midfielder was substituted at the interval he appeared on the Atletico bench wearing a similar headset, and came out to the side of the pitch to shout instructions.
Simeone had broken from his usual ‘game by game’ strategy and rested seven of the team that started in the Champions League semi-final first leg win over Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
With the return on Tuesday night and having seen the Germans change eight players, the Argentine followed suit. Usually he’s a stickler for playing his strongest side and ignoring the games ahead, but this time pragmatism got the better of the coach, at ‘half-time’ in the European tie he decided to take no risks.
Given La Liga is not in their hands, needing Barcelona to slip up so they can take advantage, while the Champions League is, the coach left key men like top scorer Griezmann and midfield pair Koke and Saul on the bench.
LA LIGA CONTENDERS’ RUN-INS
Sunday May 8 vs Espanyol (H)
Sunday May 15 vs Granada (A)
Sunday May 8 vs Levante (A)
Sunday May 15 vs Celta Vigo (H)
Sunday May 8 vs Valencia (H)
Sunday May 15 vs Deportivo (A)