5 Improvements Atletico Madrid Need to Make After La Liga Opening Day Draw Against Girona

Atletico Madrid would have been disappointed by a draw prior to their trip to Girona on Saturday, but in the end it was a welcome result. Two goals and one man down with just over 10 minutes remaining, Diego Simeone's side fought back against the newcomers in Spain's top flight to earn a point with goals from Angel Correa and Jose Maria Gimenez. But it was a hardly an ideal opening game for Los Colchoneros, who will be looking for significant improvements in a number of areas as the season...

Take the Impetus Away From Home

This is particularly pertinent given Atletico's start to the season. The trip to Estadi Montilivi was the first of three successive away games to begin the campaign, with building work on the Wanda Metropolitano not yet completed.

Against a La Liga newcomer, playing the first top flight game in their history, Atletico were far too reserved, almost inviting Girona to attack with confidence. Of course, Simeone and his players have had great success in remaining disciplined away from home in recent years, but against sides they are expected to beat, they need to begin on the front foot and have confidence in their attacking capabilities.

When the visitors opened up late in the second half in search of an equaliser, even with 10 men, Girona struggled to contain them.

Don't Rely Too Heavily on Antoine Griezmann

When Griezmann was sent off for calling the referee a "f***ing bottlejob", immediately after having been booked for diving, Atletico, strangely enough, appeared more fluid and expansive.

It may simply have been that they were committing more players forward, although there was a shift in impetus that could hardly have been coincidental. While he was on the pitch, it seemed that Griezmann's teammates were almost waiting, expecting him to produce a moment of brilliance.

Atletico need to mix up their attacking play instead of relying entirely on Griezmann, despite his undoubted quality. With the top scorer of the last three seasons likely suspended for the next two games, they'll have little choice.

Rediscover Their Defensive Stability

It was an uncharacteristically nervy and unconvincing defensive display from Atletico against Girona, one that will have concerned Simeone.

Goalkeeper Jan Oblak was left far too exposed on numerous occasions, and produced a sublime reflex save in injury time to ensure his side left with a point. Atletico undoubtedly missed two of the key components of their usually reliable back four; Diego Godin and Filipe Luis, but they would still have expected better.

They will need to quickly rediscover the typical defensive organisation that has been a staple of Simeone's teams in recent years.

Offer More Protection for Juanfran

Juanfran has been a reliable performer in Atletico's defence since arriving from Osasuna in 2011, but at 32, he is beginning to diminish somewhat.

Against Girona, the right-back was repeatedly exposed and looked to be struggling defensively. While Šime Vrsaljko is still recovering from injury, Atletico will need to ensure that Juanfran is protected.

He remains an accomplished full-back, but as one of the old guard at the club, Atletico will be looking to avoid an over-reliance on him this season.

Don't Underestimate the Opposition

Atletico under Simeone are normally consummate professionals, well-drilled, organised and tactically disciplined.

But against Girona they seemed slightly taken aback by the quality of their opposition, whose lowly reputation worked in their favour. It's not that Atletico were complacent or disrespectful of the newly-promoted side, they appeared just to be caught out by the early intensity of the game.

They will want to avoid that in future, particularly if they are to keep up with Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga this season.

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