Atletico Madrid are 90 minutes away from playing their second Champions League in three seasons. The Rojiblancos have established themselves as one of Europe’s finest teams under Diego Simeone with defense being their key weapon.
This season alone, Atleti have kept 30 clean sheets and that too after playing against top oppositions like Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Going in to the second leg at Allianz Arena tonight, Atletico carry a 1-0 advantage after Saul Niguez’s wonder goal from the first leg.
Bayern had no answers to the resilient defending from Simeone’s men and were forced to play long balls and crosses which were dealt with ease. Second leg could be a different story with Bayern playing at home and as expected will have more of the ball.
We saw what happened in the quarter final second leg against Juventus when Bayern scored 2 goals in 17 minutes to see off a brave performance from the Serie A Champions. However, Atleti are a different beast who cannot be tamed or pulled down easily.
They feed on soaking up the pressure from their opponents and make sure they hold on to whatever little advantage they get. Like their quarterfinal tie against Barcelona, they are the second favorites going in to the second leg, however, we all saw how they stifled Barca to a 2-0 win at Vicente Calderon.
One expects a similar pattern to tonight’s game where Atleti will play within themselves knowing the importance of keeping their shape and not allowing Bayern any free space to work with.
Thomas Muller is expected to start tonight and he will be the one player Atletico need to be wary of. Muller has this uncanny knack of finding space between the defense line and bringing others in to play.
Robert Lewandowski may have scored all the goals this season but Muller has been the most vital and dangerous player for Bayern Munich.
So far we have pretty much talked about Atleti’s defense, however, their attack going forward is not too bad either. In Antoine Griezmann, they have an attacker who loves to drift wide as well as cut inside to create chances for himself and others.
Fernando Torres has reinvented himself this season and he will be Ateltico’s biggest goal threat playing on the counter attack. Saul Niguez showed us what he is capable of in the first leg and Koke has been one of Europe’s consistent performers in recent seasons.
Simeone has players who are capable of scoring the crucial away goal which will virtually kill the game at Allianz Arena and will leave Pep Guardiola craving for the Champions League honor in his less than comfortable stint with Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich vs Atletico Predicted Scoreline: Bayern 2 Atletico 1 (Atleti to qualify on the away goal rule)
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