Atletico Madrid faces Man City in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg on Wednesday. The English champions hold a 1-0 first-leg lead against the defending Spanish champions after a first leg which saw zero shots for Diego Simeone’s side. The winner of this tie will face Real Madrid in the semi-final, an extra motivation for Atleti.
Atletico Madrid Form
Atletico have largely been good of late and looking more like their old selves. Going into the first leg, they were on a run of six straight wins. That included a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford to progress 2-1 on aggregate in the round of 16.
The first leg against Man City last week didn’t pan out as expected. City had 18 shots to zero and Atletico often found themselves defending in a 5-5-0 setup with no out-ball. Their last match saw a late goal conceded to lose 1-0 at a defensive Mallorca team playing a 5-3-2 shape.
Atletico Madrid Team News
Central defender Jose Maria Gimenez has missed the last couple of matches and remains a doubt for this one. Felipe will deputise in the middle of the back three, a downgrade for Diego Simeone. Yannick Carrasco is finally available again for European action and will likely start as the left wingback although that would be harsh on Renan Lodi.
Luis Suarez will probably be left on the bench again with Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix preferred. The positional usage of Marcos Llorente will be key. He could play as a right wingback for his pace or in central midfield for his ability to cover the ground.
Atletico Madrid Motivation
Atleti will again set up to defend with a back five. Diego Simeone has openly said that his approach will be the same as the first leg but his side needs to make more of their counter attack opportunities.
If they are losing this match or it’s 0-0 with 20 minutes to go, expect him to throw on Suarez and Matheus Cunha and try to nick a goal to take it to extra time.
Man City Form
Pep Guardiola’s team are in fine form. Their last 13 matches in all competitions have brought ten wins and his side have lost just once in 23 matches, a surprise 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham. After surprisingly drawing successive matches 0-0 – at home to Sporting Lisbon and away at Crystal Palace – his side won 4-1 at Southampton and 2-0 at Burnley going into the first leg.
Despite eventually getting the win, City struggled to break down Atletico’s 5-5-0 shape. The first half saw a paltry six shots with none on target. In their last match, City surrendered two leads to draw 2-2 at home with Liverpool. They were excellent in the first half but less effective in the second period.
Man City Team News
Ruben Dias is back in training and could make the bench but definitely won’t start. Kyle Walker is available after being suspended for the first leg so Joao Cancelo will revert to left-back with Nathan Ake left out.
As always, the biggest call is in the attack. Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne, and Bernardo Silva all look certain picks with two other spots available. It will probably be either Jack Grealish or Raheem Sterling down the left and Riyad Mahrez or Gabriel Jesus on the right.
Man Utd Motivation
City were outstanding defensively in the first leg, giving up only a couple of counters and not conceding a single shot.
Guardiola will again set up to avoid giving space on transitions whilst dominating the ball and looking to win the match.
Atletico are winless in 7 home CL matches (DDLDLLD)
Atletico Madrid have failed to score in 4 of their last 7 home matches
Atletico have lost 4 of their last 11 home matches (all comps)
City have lost 2 of their last 14 away CL matches (10 unbeaten then 2 defeats in the last 4)
City have won 16 of their last 19 PL matches (L1, D2)
City have lost once in their last 23 matches (all comps)
This should be a fascinating match as both teams look to focus on their defensive setups but in completely different ways – Atletico defending small spaces and attacking big spaces and City defending big spaces and attacking in small spaces. It is tough to see Atletico turning this around or City losing this match. An away win looks like a good bet, especially with another clean sheet.
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