Champions League preview: Bayern vs. Atletico

Only 90 minutes stand in the way of Atleti and a Champions League final

Simeone will need his team to show huge cojones tomorrow night

Simeone will need his team to show huge cojones tomorrow night

Atlético Madrid head to the Allianz Arena where the Germans will be eager to see if their beloved Bayern Munich can overcome a 1-0 deficit against the best defence in Europe on Tuesday night.

The second-leg contains many story lines and will finally answer the questions of “can Atleti keep Bayern off the scoresheet again? Can Guardiola get Bayern to a UCL final?” 

The former will be tough for Simeone’s side to do considering Bayern have an impressive home UCL record in recent years.

The latter question will be emphasized even more and is likely to be weighing on Guardiola’s mind considering last week he told journalists the punishment he deserves if they are to lose per Football Espana:

“Everyone has killed me, but I’m still alive. We have another game left [in the tie], and if we lose it then you can kill me, but we still have a chance.”

Obviously, Simeone is in the driver’s seat heading into the second-leg, but the Argentine isn’t without his headaches beyond the European competition. Domestically, Simeone has undergone controversy when a few weeks ago he was banned from the touchline for the remainder of the Primera season after he was found responsible for a ball boy throwing a second ball onto the pitch against Malaga.

In addition, this past weekend a couple of headsets on the bench and around his vicinity in the stands saw people wondering if Simeone would be banned further for such actions.

Tuesday’s match will reveal if Simeone continues this trend of controversy. Anyhow, read on to see each team’s recent form, their starting XI, and more below.

Bayern Munich

Latest form (in all competitions) – W-W-W-L-D (Furthest right being most recent.)

Pep Guardiola’s third successive Bundesliga title will have to wait after Borussia Monchengladbach came back to complete a 1-1 draw at the Allianz at the weekend.

With Bayern in first place with 82 points, five points ahead of Borussia Dortmund and two games left to play, it is likely they will successfully defend their domestic title. However, given Guardiola’s success in Europe with Barcelona, it is undoubtedly the European competition that will define his time at the Bavarian club.

The Spaniards questionable decision to leave off Thomas Muller to start the first-leg didn’t sit well with the German media, and he will likely start the German international this time around.

Given that Bayern sought out to utilize the flanks via crosses and chances into the penalty area, another target-man like Muller will, in theory, benefit Bayern who were without many options after Robert Lewandowski was left for dead in the heart of Atleti’s compact defense.

Guardiola will certainly be opting for his players to try their individual skills and put them to the test on Tuesday. Last week, David Alaba and Arturo Vidal both had brilliant strikes on goal; the former rattled the woodwork and the latter forced Jan Oblak to make a great save. Don’t be surprised to see Douglas Costa also try his chances from outside the box.

Tactics aside, goals need to come for the Bundesliga title holders, they have only scored three goals in their last three UCL matches, and considering their incredible fire power and attacking philosophy, that number isn’t acceptable.

Injuries will be another concern for Bayern as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are questionable as of Monday, but the return of defender Jerome Boateng into the starting XI will boost their strength at the back.

Bayern possible starting XI –  Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Martinez, Alaba; Muller, Vidal, Thiago; Costa, Lewandowski, Ribery

Key Players –

  • Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski – The Germany and Poland internationals have combined for 70 goals in all competitions. Given that Atleti stopped Lewandowski from making his presence felt at the Vicente Calderon, Guardiola needs both to be at their best on Tuesday, especially Muller who has provided heroics this UCL season, most notably in the Round of 16 against Juventus.
  • Arturo Vidal – The Chilean’s work ethic and box-to-box mentality helps Bayern all over the pitch. His stoppage time shot on Oblak in the first-leg was poor by his standards and they’ll need him to finish should chances come his way in Germany.

Atlético Madrid

Latest form (in all competitions) – W-W-W-W-W

Atleti are hot. They’re in control of this draw in terms of aggregate score, at the moment, and have every reason to believe they can see off a team as big as Bayern Munich considering they beat the champions of Europe in the quarter-final.

Obviously Bayern Munich is no pushover, and as stated above, have an impressive home record when it comes to the Champions League. Atleti, however, haven’t lost a game in in their last five, they’ve kept a clean sheet in each of those games and as highlighted by Squawka, they’ve been superb defensively all season.

This unified effort to keep their opponents off the scoreboard is obviously the reason they’ve made their mark in Europe over the last few seasons, especially since they’re on the brink of going to the final for the second time in three seasons. But individual brilliance on the front-foot from Saul, Antoine Griezmann, and Fernando Torres has seen los Rojiblancos get the better of Europe’s strongest sides.

Tuesday’s clash sees center-back Diego Godin return from injury, something that surely calms the nerves of Atleti fans. But considering Bayern’s center-forwards were kept quiet without the Uruguayan veteran last week, we at AtleticoFans feel the need to highlight perhaps the true MVPs of the back-line, below.

Atletico possible starting XI – : Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Luis; Saul, Gabi, Fernandez, Koke; F Torres, Griezmann

Key Players –

  • Saul – With three goals and two assists in the UCL this season, it will be up to the young midfielder to continue his hot form in Germany. Don’t expect another Messi-like goal, but Saul’s ability on the counter will be more vital than ever if Atleti are to succeed at the Allianz.
  • Juanfran and Filipe Luis – The Spaniard and the Brazilian are perhaps more important to Atleti’s success than both center-backs are, whoever they may be, due to the fact that their compact shape sometimes sees the CBs with very little to do. Both fullbacks don’t ignore Bayern’s wing players, and are often the difference between the ball getting into dangerous areas and Bayern’s wingers quickly passing south to start the play over.

  • AaX

    Bayern will be looking to start with quick surprising moves and trying to get it early or late in the game (Mindful of the last’s last minute equalizer). Although they have all the pedigree and the Stars, We Have One Thing that most Don’t. WE HAVE CHARACTER and to qoute A. Ferguson, “FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD !!”. And May The LORD BESTOWS Loads of Them to Us.


  • At the airport on the way to Munich – getting nervous now! Vamos Atleti!

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Aupa Atleti!!

  • Koke

    Hard work, selflessness, and determination often triumph against talent and money. Just look at Leicester’s incredible EPL win. Luckily, Atleti has both the character AND the talent. It will be awfully hard to keep a clean sheet at the Allianz, but if any team in the world can do it, it’s us. And if we manage to score a goal or two (which should absolutely be our objective – if we try to defend for 90 minutes we’re screwed), then Bayern are in deep trouble. Even though for the first half of this season we took a long long time to start looking like the world class team we are, after the showing I’ve seen in the past few months I couldn’t be prouder of this team, no matter what happens in the league and CL from now. Let’s do this. Atletico has more balls than any other team you can think of.