Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid Manager Diego Simeone has pointed out that one of the switches that Carlo Ancelotti made helped his side to nullify Jude Bellingham, who has been making the difference for Los Blancos this season.

With the exception of their previous game in La Liga against Real Sociedad, a 2-1 win last Sunday, Real Madrid have relied on Bellingham to score in every other game. That 2-1 win came courtesy of goals from Joselu Mato and Fede Valverde.

Since Vinicius Junior went down with injury, the former Espanyol forward has been in the starting line-up, but Ancelotti chose to alter things and bring in Luka Modric on Sunday night, with Bellingham pushed up alongside Rodrygo Goes.

Simeone explained to Diario AS that it helped them to shut down Bellingham.

“No, the spaces were reduced and I think that Joselu’s absence left him with fewer possibilities to arrive, when he took advantage of Joselu’s aerial game. We controlled it better, it was extraordinary. Madrid showed on the field that something can always happen. Luckily the 3-1 took away that space where they are better, if it had been 2-1 and stage fright. For us this victory is very important.”

Joselu did come on at half-time for Modric, as Ancelotti tried to rectify the situation, but Los Blancos looked little better in front of goal. Rodrygo did fire one chance wide that Joselu brought down for him in the box, but largely Los Colchoneros dealt well with Real Madrid’s forays forward, with and without Joselu.

While Real Madrid have not been operating smoothly in attack with Joselu either, Bellingham has been in a role behind two forwards. Ancelotti seems unlikely to shift things again any time soon.