Atletico Madrid and Diego Simeone are making quite a name for themselves as Europe’s most difficult team to break down, especially at Vicente Calderon.
Barcelona found it the hard way after they lost 2-0 and were knocked out at the quarter final stage. Tonight it was Bayern Munich who suffered a 1-0 defeat and had no answers to Atletico’s defensive masterclass.
Pep Guardiola’s side were hailed as the best team remaining in the competition but Atletico made them look like an average European side who did not know how to get past a rigid defense.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich: Match Stats
Atletico had two different game plans for each halves where they came out, pressed hard and charged for the ball in first half, where as they were content with soaking up the pressure and playing on the counter attack in second half.
Saul Niguez produced the moment of individual brilliance which Atletico needed to get in front. He wriggled his way past three Bayern defenders before taking a step-over and then curling a shot to Manuel Neuer’s far post.
Bayern had no clue what hit them and they began to recklessly throw long balls to Robert Lewandowski in hope of something positive. However, in Thomas Muller’s absence, Bayern were unable to take any advantage of the second balls with corners and long balls being defended with ease by Atletico’s defense.
Muller not starting will be discussed a lot in tomorrow’s papers as it was almost a negative tactic from Guardiola where he tried to shape his team according to his opponents’ strengths rather than trusting his own team’s abilities.
Anyhow, Atletico kept playing with the tempo and strategy much to the frustration of Bayern Munich. Despite having 26% of the possession in the entire game, Atletico came close to scoring the next goal as well.
It was a class Atletico counter attack move when Antoine Griezmann ran almost 40 yards to send Fernando Torres through. The Spaniard shifted the ball on to his left and tried a shot with outside of his right foot.
The ball ended up striking the goal post and came out. Had Torres gone with his left, Atletico may have doubled their advantage going in to the second leg tie next week.
Bayern were still contained with putting crosses in and they finally managed to have a free header in the box with Mehdi Benatia getting on the end of it. But his contact was very poor and it went right in to Jan Oblak’s safe hands.
Final whistle brought joy and hope of qualifying for another Champions League final to Atletico supporters present inside Vicente Calderon. Simeone was punching the air while Guardiola was quick to head towards the tunnel thinking the size of task his team are up against in about 7 days’ time from now.
Image Credit: Getty