Diego Simeone has placed Axel Witsel in the center back for three games in a row, Red Devil impresses in Spain


It looks like Axel Witsel (33) will act as a central defender at Atlético Madrid. Coach Diego Simoene has already tried the Red Devil in that position for three exhibition games in a row. And he is not doing badly there, according to Spanish media.

Jonas Withouck

At the end of June, Witsel’s contract with Dortmund had ended and he could look for a new club. Finish the career? Oh, no. There was great interest in the Red Devil. Juventus and especially Marseille, among others, wanted to hire him, but Atlético coach Diego Simeone reportedly seduced our compatriot with a phone call. Witsel signed a contract for one season with an option for an additional year in the Spanish capital.

Either way, the midfield competition at Atléti is fierce: Geoffrey Kondogbia, Marcos Llorente, Rodrigo de Paul, Koke, Saul Niguez, Daniel Wass… plenty of choice for Simeone. That is why he has a different position in mind for Witsel: central in the defence, where he has also been placed at Dortmund every now and then.


In the practice matches against Numancia and Manchester United, Witsel was allowed to fill in at the heart of the defence, on Thursday evening against Cadiz (1-4 win), the Red Devil started in the center back. “No one should be surprised if Witsel is also put in important matches there,” writes the Spanish sports newspaper marca. “Simeone likes his purity of passing and his ability to direct the game.”

100% passed passes

And then Marca brings some statistics: “Against Cadiz, the Belgian completed 49 passes from 49 attempts. These figures have been achieved by only two Atlético players since the 2005-2006 season. Not only did he excel in passing against Cadiz, he also showed against Numancia (97%) and Manchester United (94%) that Atlético has a life insurance policy with Witsel when the ball is at his foot.”

Nice words in Marca, but also in the center of the defense, Witsel will not be able to play every week. There too there is a lot of competition with Gimenez, Hermoso, Savic and Felipe. But given the number of matches that are scheduled for a top club like Atlético, Witsel will make his playing minutes. And he needs that with a view to the World Cup.


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