Friday, September 29, 2023

Champions League: Witsel goes out injured, Doku comes in as a firefighter

But for Witsel the team from Lazio seemed like a defeat after Provodel’s close draw (90+5!).

Aligned in the axis of Atlético’s triple defense, the Belgian nevertheless demonstrated his calm and experience to maintain the zero. With 56 balls touched, 96% of successful passes, three blocks and one clearance, he was imperial. He could even have been decisive in defense with this shot on goal in the 50th minute.

But 25 minutes later, Witsel had to give up his place due to an injury, visibly to his right knee. Which disrupted the Spanish collective mechanics. Diego Simeone and the red and white fans hope not to see him add to the long list of injuries (Giménez, Vitolo, Koke, Llorente, De Paul, Soyuncu, Lemar, Depay, etc.) that the colchoneros already have. Especially since Pablo Barrios also left injured after half-time after opening the scoring in the 29th minute.

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Doku changes everything

Jérémy Doku, for his part, did the opposite of Axel Witsel, moving from the bench to the field in the 44th minute, after a tactical change by Pep Guardiola, who took off Bernardo Silva before the break. A change that did not take effect directly, despite Doku’s first confusing dribbles, as Bukari (on loan from Ghent) opened the scoring for Red Star Belgrade just before the break. And this despite… 22 shots by the locals in one time (record).

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Upon returning from the locker room, the Citizens regained their precision thanks to Álvarez, author of a double (on an assist from Haaland and then on a free kick that saw goalkeeper Omri Glazer cross) and then Rodri. If Doku was not decisive, he perfectly fulfilled the role of dynamiter that Guardiola entrusted to him, multiplying his dribbles and dangerous crosses. And he once again scored points in the eyes of his fans, who are already conquered.

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