Atlético Madrid were beaten 1-0 by Bayern Munich on Tuesday evening, the German side far superior at the Allianz Arena to put a run to the rojiblancos‘ winning Champions League run.
Roberto Lewandowski’s superb first half free-kick separated the two sides, but it didn’t tell the full story of the hosts dominance on a night to forget for Simeone and his team.
As we all knew before kick-off, the match meant nothing in the grand scheme of things but Atleti wanted a win to secure their place in the history books with 6 group stage wins out of 6.
Cholo sent out a strong line-up, but despite a bright start and a couple of early chances for Yannick Carrasco, they were distinctly second best struggled to reach the final third for the most part.
The goal came just before the half hour mark, Bayern turning their early pressure into a lead as Robert Lewandowski stepped up to curl a stunning free-kick over the wall and into the top corner.
It was a fabulous strike from the former Borussia Dortmund frontman, and one that even Oblak couldn’t keep out despite his unstoppable recent form. The Slovenian had made a good save earlier on to Douglas Costa.
Atleti’s response was poor, and unlike in last year’s semi-final at the Allianz, failed to cause any problems on the counter attack or sustain a bit of pressure until the latter stages.
After the break the home side began to turn the screw a bit more, and perhaps would’ve doubled their lead had Arjen Robben been a little more decisive.
The Dutchman found some space in behind the rojiblanco backline but was eventually crowded out, having opted not to go to ground after a touch from Koke on his shoulder.
Moments later he did go down theatrically under a challenge from Savic, but the referee waved play on. It wasn’t Robben’s best evening, with the impressive Lucas Hernández doing a good job of keeping him quiet.
It really should’ve been 2-0 midway through the half when two of Bayern’s Spanish contingent linked up, but somehow Thiago skied the ball over the crossbar from just a few yards out after good work from Bernat.
Cholo‘s men did push forward a little more towards the end after the introductions of Correa, Gameiro and Thomas, but it was a case of too little, too late as again they failed to create any serious chances.
Thankfully the hard work has been done and we will go into next week’s draw for the round of 16 as top seeds, but the performance will cause a little bit of concern given Atleti’s recent form.
This was a good chance for a reaction and for the team to remind everybody of their quality on the big stage, but they were underwhelming and failed to match the intensity that we saw in the reverse fixture.
With no Champions League action now until February, focus will turn back on to domestic competition and Monday’s trip to Villarreal, where the pressure will be back on against a direct rival in La Liga.
Player ratings: Oblak 7, Vrsaljko 5, Godín 6, Savic 6, Lucas 7 (MOTM), Gabi 6, Koke 6, Saúl 5, Gaitán 5, Griezmann 5, Carrasco 5. Subs: Gameiro 5, Correa 6, Thomas 6.