I am certain many would have their eyebrows raised right now and must wondering where did this come from? However, one needs to look closely in the way Leicester City and Atleticio Madrid have played in the crunch matches against perceived better teams this season, and they will realize the uncanny resemblance between the two sides.
Both the teams are deadly on the counter attacks, keep very little possession, rely on their defense, keep a lot of clean sheets and once they take the lead they are very hard to chase down.
Atletico’s 1-0 win over Bayern Munich last night was the perfect example of how Atletico have built a successful season on the back of their solid defense. Saul Niguez scored only goal of the match on 11th minute and from there on, it was Bayern’s deseperate attack vs Atleti’s resolute defense.
Atletico Madrid ended up with only 26% of the possession which is close to Leicester’s average possession in Premier League this season. The Foxes have only kept 31% possession in England’s top flight, which is the third lowest. Despite that, Leicester are well on their way to an unprecedented league title.
Stats Comparison: Leicester City and Atletico Madrid
After seeing this little comparison, you are not the only one who is surprised seeing the similar numbers for Leicester City and Atletico Madrid’s from their domestic league this season. La Liga side are ahead in the number of clean sheets with Jan Oblak’s brilliance while Leicester are racing ahead in the number of blocks made.
Much of those blocks are down to the last-ditched tackles from Robert Huth and Wes Morgan and the brilliant N’Golo Kante from midfield. Both teams have couple of key attackers who are responsible for the uncanny similar number of chances created and key passes.
Leicester rely on Riyad Mahrez to do the magic from the wide areas and set up Jamie Vardy, while Atleti depend on Antoine Griezmann and Koke to create chances and Fernando Torres to score key goals.
Central midfield is another aspect these two teams like to keep simple and mobile at all the times. Kante, Drinkwater, Gabi and Saul have been one of the best exponents of keeping possession, breaking up the play and join the attack on every single opportunity.
Success for both Leicester and Atletico have been built around dominating when they do not have the ball. It is very similar to the way Borussia Dortmund’s league win in 2011/12 where they tackled Bayern Munich out of the title race.
They did their best work while running and not passing the ball. Leicester and Atletico have done the same and are on their way to a very successful and dare I say tenacious 2015/16 season. Both teams may want the ball and go forward to score goals, however, without it that they are truly extraordinary and have made themselves a nightmare to play against.
Then to top it all up, Leicester and Atletico are blessed with passionate managers in Claudio Ranieri and Diego Simeone respectively. While Ranieri may be in his 60’s, but he is never shy of shouting from the touchlines and trying to inspire his players to go that extra mile during games.
As for Simeone, he is as good as a player, a leader, a cheer leader and a fan from the sidelines. He is constantly running with his players, always in their ears to remain focused and always asking the fans to pump up the volume at Vicente Calderon.
In a way neither of these two teams are given a chance when they play against their famed rivals. Despite that, Atletico have got the better of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in last few weeks.
As for Leicester, they have registered famous victories over Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham this season. Seeing how these two teams come out on top even when they are tagged as the underdogs has been the standout feature about this 2015/16 season.
With just 4 weeks remaining in the season, Leicester are very close to winning the Premier League title and Atletico look certain to be very close in winning either La Liga or Champions League or even both.
Atletico’s success on European scene with their limited strength must also be an inspiration for Leicester who will play in Champions League next season. The Foxes have got the right playing style which can yield success. All Leicester need to do is apply those very methods in the similar way Atletico Madrid have been doing all season long.
Image Credit: Getty, Squawka, Sky Sports