Atletico Madrid’s rock-solid defence is going to have their work cut out for them when they take on free-scoring Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
27 April 2016
Semi-final first leg
Kick-off 20:45 CEST/14:45 GMT
Venue: Estadio Vicente Calderon
TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Atletico 2 0 1 1
Bayern 2 1 1 0
Bayern Munich 4-0 Atletico Madrid 17/05/74 (European Cup)
Bayern goalscorers: U.Hoeness (28′, 82′), G. Muller (56′, 69′)
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) April 26, 2016
Players to watch:
Atletico have put a huge amount of responsibility on leading goalscorer Antoine Griezmann this season and to the French international’s credit he has come up with some vitally important goals for the Primera Division club.
His tally of 29 goals in 47 matches has helped them go level on points with Barcelona in the league standings and into the semi-finals of the Champions League, and much is going to be resting on his shoulders once again on Wednesday.
The Bavarians’ squad is chock-full of attacking potential and both Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski are among the top-four scorers in the Champions League this term.
The duo have been deadly for Bayern all season and while Lewandowski’s total of 40 strikes in 43 games eclipses Muller’s 31 in 39, it is clear that both men pose a significant danger to the Atletico defence.
Team form and quotes:
The home side have hit a rich vein of form of late, winning their last five matches in a row in all competitions, including a 2-0 win over Barca in the quarter-final second leg to progress to the final four of the Champions League.
The run has also seen them draw level on points with the Catalans at the top of La Liga, but they remain second in head-to-head encounters.
There is a lot of confidence flowing through the Spanish outfit currently, but they will be taking nothing for granted against Bayern.
“The game against Bayern will be as difficult or even more so than the one against Barcelona,” Atleti defender Jose Gimenez said ahead of the game.
“They have different weapons but play similar football. We hope it won’t be their night and that we can get a good result.”
The Bavarians have not suffered defeat since the beginning of March and are currently in the midst of an 11-game unbeaten run. There was a shaky patch in the middle where they didn’t appear to be at the top of their game, but the fact they claimed three consecutive 1-0 wins in that period illustrates how hungry the squad is to succeed.
“They have the best defense in the Spanish Liga. I think they’re a team that play on the break. We need to be careful,” Lewandowski told the UEFA website.
“As a striker, it’s a challenge to face a side that concede so few, but I’m happy to be playing against them. We know it will be tough, but we are Bayern.”
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) April 26, 2016
With the exception of Tiago, who has been a long-term absentee with a broken leg, Atleti boss Diego Simeone will have a full-strength squad to choose from for the vital first leg.
Holger Badstuber (ankle) and Arjen Robben (groin) will definitely miss out for Bayern, while Jerome Boateng could play some part in the game after returning to training from a groin injury last week, but he is unlikely to make the starting XI.