Champions League preview: Leverkusen vs. Atlético

Rojiblancos prepare for their Champions League last 16 first leg

Atleti training at BayArena

Atleti training at BayArena

After Gameiro’s spectacular Hat-Trick within five minutes (80′, 82′, 85′) on their last Liga match against Sporting de Gijón, Atleti faces pressure focusing back to the Champions League.

This will be their first leg match at the Round of 16 this season, and the first match for the Champions since December.

Atlético Madrid will travel and start the round in Leverkusen, hoping to score the necessary goals and qualify for the Quarter Finals after the second leg in Calderón.

Kick-off at BayArena is set for 20:45 CET.

We are having a similar scenario from two years ago. On March 2015 and after two matches with Bayer, penalties defined Atleti’s qualification (1-1) and after: (4-2), for that year’s Quarter Finals.

Many interviews and reports show that Bayer’s coach Roger Schmidt and players agree that Cholo’s men are not the same as two years ago: the team is stronger.

Although, after winning their last three games in LaLiga, the Rojiblancos are feeling confident and are looking forward to reach another Champions Final this year.

As we all know, fantastic news came along with Oblak’s return. The Slovenian has trained with total normality since last Wednesday, before the team faced Sporting. Receiving total medical clearance, he has been called for Leverkusen.

We have to take into account that Cholo’s men won the group round last December. Atleti wanted to secure their place on the Round of 16 with perfect 6 wins out of 6. Unfortunately, a goal from Lewandowski defined Bayern Munich’s win. Our place was secure, but perhaps not as they expected.

Griezmann and Gameiro are the top scorers so far, with Carrasco and Torres following. Both French men have been cheered for giving the team 9 goals each and for being a fantastic pair on assists. Fans around the world await for all four to score as beautifully as they have, especially when it comes to the Champions League.

Bayer have had its ups and downs during the German League and friendlies, currently being on the 8th place at the Bundesliga Table.

With the Mexican Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández being the protagonist on several Bayer’s matches, he will definitely be a threat Rojiblancos will have to focus on. If we remember, ‘Chicharito’ was the one knocking out Atleti of 2014-15 Quarter Finals with Real Madrid. We hope he does not have the same chances with Bayer.

Bayer is definitely a strong rival. Schmidt’s tactics have defined the team’s style for the last years. Simeone and the team have to focus on what matters the most right now: getting through this round. Cholo expressed his respects for Bayer Leverkusen and their coach Roger Schmidt, praising their strength and approaches.

“We are going to find a team that deploys everything their coach asks: heart, enthusiasm, intention and a lot of intensity. They are probably one of the most intense rivals we have played in the Champions” , were some of his words on yesterday’s press conference, “I think that the team has grown in this beginning of 2017 compared with the end of 2016. I consider that still we have a large margin of improvement and hopefully we can breach it”.

We know Atleti has all the potential to go all the way through the Champions’ Final, as they have demonstrated on the last three years. It is time to prove it again. Everyone on Atlético’s side dreams about them being the winners. No challenge is big enough for the Rojiblancos.

Squad List for this Tuesday:

Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak, Moreira

Defense: Filipe Luis, Savic, Lucas, Vrsaljko, Giménez

Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Carrasco, Gabi, Thomas, Gaitán, Caio

Strikers: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro

 


  • Cold Water

    Gameiro
    Carrasco-Griezmann-Gaitán
    Gabi-Koke
    Filipe-Giménez-Savic-Vrsaljko
    Moreira

  • Usavicente Calderon

    Since
    Chicharito was a Real M. player, and seems to be the key to beating us,
    then I have to hate this team. Plus Chicharito had the chance to play
    with us and instead joined Real; All the more to dislike. I hope we
    crush them and he goes home crying! (Can you feel the hostility?)

  • Hannu

    Yeah Chicharito is disgusting. I have hoped that Joel Pohjanpalo kicks him out of their starting IX but after that hat trick he has been doomed to bench so fuck off Leverkusen and free Joel next summer. Total crushing would be nice!

  • Khan

    I hope Simeone chooses a strong line up against Bayer Leverkusen neglecting that it’s a two legged match and also neglecting that our next opponents will be Barcelona.
    Players like Torres and Gabi may be an exception, considering their good form and freshness required to repeat against Barcelona.

    Don’t know whether it may be a risk or not but Oblak is always a better keeper and makes at least two or three crucial saves which allows the players to maintain their intense play and confidence.
    I think it would be smart to line him up against Bayer Leverkusen rather than against Barcelona.
    Expected starting lineup :
    Oblak;
    Filipe Luis;Lucas;Giminez;Vrsaljko;
    Carrasco;Gabi;Thomas;Koke;
    Gameiro;Griezmann

  • Cold Water

    Why have a wing striker in midfield? smh

  • Zinni DUDU

    http://www.marca.com/futbol/atletico/2017/02/21/58ac5c2c46163fbf298b45fa.html

    Thats the reason why Torres has been an idol for a long time for me. While Griezmann goes past every fan, he is the one who always goes to the fans and gives autograms and talks to them. Thats the evidence why he is one of ours and has to stay at this club atleast for two years. Ofcourse we can buy more and more good players, but while doing that, we should consider that we are loosing our identity. Gameiro and Griezmann have not the same love for this club and the fans as Torres has

  • Khan

    I too would like Carrasco on left wing in 4-3-3 formation with 3 midfielders (Koke; Gabi ; Thomas/Saul) and Gameiro/Correa /Torres as central striker and Griezmann on right wing or more as an free roaming striker like Gareth Bale does for Real Madrid.
    But Cold water if you see Simeone has used Carrasco as left midfielder for majority of the season.

  • Khan

    I too love Torres man. He is an Atleti legend. But no player is greater than his respective team. Atletico comes ahead of Torres. And I don’t understand why you are doubting Griezmann love for his team.

    Let me clear you that in 2016, Griezmann was only player besides Ronaldo to play in both the finals of Champions League and Euro. And as you may know he was heavily rumoured in both transfer seasons to leave our club that could double his wages but he never did. For what? Obviously for the love of Atleti!

  • Zinni DUDU

    I never doubted that the team is the most important thing in our game. But Griezmann said he will stay, because of Simeone. Thatswhy I can not say that his motivation to stay was because “he loves” the club; he said only that he loves Simeone and Simeone is not the team as you said. We will see in the future, when Simeone -maybe- leaves, if he is ready to stay. When this happens I will take my criticism back, for sure.

    I only wanted to make clear, that one of the things which makes our team so strong, is that our players players love Atletico Madrid. If we keep on selling our homegrowns players like Baston and keep buying players like Gameiro, we will loose our identity as Barcelona for example.

  • Cold Water

    You don’t know how losing 2 finals feels like.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Bro, nobody knows that. Only the players who suffered in the finals can tell you that.

  • Cold Water

    Simeone went 4-3-3 with;

    Carrasco-Griezmann-Gameiro
    Gabi-Saul-Koke
    Filipe-Gimenez-Savic-Vrsaljko
    Moya

    That’s not bad.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Saul is maybe one of the worst passers when it comes to putting through our strikers…

  • Cold Water

    Simeone loves him.

  • Cold Water

    Filipe is really good.

  • Hannu

    There you have you fucking haters!

  • Kris

    Saul always turning up in the UCL. Fantastic goal.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Well he is shit in passing but scores great goals

  • Fagabond Saul

    Where is fagabond pessi now?! Fuck all the haters!!! Choke on deez nutz!!!

  • Koke

    I take it some of the Saul critics would prefer to not have had that away goal, than see Saul score?

  • Saulazo

    And fuck that fat cunt Ahmet Hussaini because he always hates on Saul even when he plays good. What a plastic Real Madrid fan girl!

  • Cold Water

    Good first half result wise.

  • Palantine

    I think the team played very well, took risks even after scoring the first and probably deserved to score another one. Leverkusen best opportunities came from scrappy plays that favored them. I hope the team stays at the same level in the second half, it’s not maximum intensity Atleti like we’ve seen before but it’s getting there and it’s making me optimistic for the end of the season.

  • Cold Water

    Thomas for Saul in the second half.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Torres, Correa and Thomas will come on, I guess

  • Cold Water

    Thomas in now!

  • Dude

    Penalty scored! Finally!

  • Dude

    Savic own goal. Damn it!

  • Palantine

    We’re quite unlucky in this game

  • Mitch

    Not his fault, Moyá’s mistake!

  • Dude

    Man City Monaco also 2-3

  • Mitch

    3-3 now there. I hope we get another goal 2-4!

  • AndersAT

    I don’t like that we have conceded two goals in a game we have contolled so well. Moya have made some mistakes lately.

    And I don’t get the substitution. Gameiro have been perfect this match.

  • Dude

    4-3 lol

  • Mitch

    To keep him fresh for the Sunday’s match.

  • Dude

    5-3 holy smoke!

  • Mitch

    Ohhhh, my Torres!!!!

    Why was he given a yellow card?

  • Dude

    2-4

  • AndersAT

    Yeah well. But he haven’t played that much lately. He could have pulled Carrasco or Griezmann out, they have played more.

  • Mitch

    So many yellow cards…another one for Filipe:-(!

  • Mitch

    2-5 maybe for us?

  • Dude

    Awful performance. Decent result. 3.5/5

  • Zinni DUDU

    It feels fucking great to see our strikers all score. With Gameiro, Torres and Griezmann in great form, it can be still a good season.

  • Mitch

    True, should had given Griezmann more rest!

  • Mitch

    Filipe Luis is the hero today. He cleared on the line or else it would have been 3-3 and we might even lost!

  • Karlp

    1st goal probably Carrasco’s and maybe Savic’s (?) fault. Probably needs more training. How can we be so narrow?
    2nd goal is Gabi’s (the crosser is his man) and obviously Moya’s fault.

    Gameiro MoTM by far. Saul also good, and not just for the goal, although his passing & combination play can be improved. He looks better against team that play open like this.

    Again our attack is actually very good against team that play as open as this, just like the last Barca game.

  • Khan

    This game will make all Atletico fans to dream of winning both La Liga and Champions League.
    -If Gameiro uses his pace and controls the ball with such beauty and if both Griezmann and Gameiro play with this coordination until the end of the season, we can surely be victorious.
    -Two goals conceded, but I think that should never matter as long as we attack with same precision.
    And moreover second goal was own goal due to misjudged decision by Moya to put away the ball instead of catching it. Here the good news is Oblak is fit and will replace him at the earliest.
    -Vrsaljko is perfect replacement for Juanfran. The ease with which he is advancing into the opposition half with accurate touches and dribbling and also comfortably tracking down the ball sometimes, he surely could give Juanfran competition for starting place. That assist for Torres goal was brilliance.
    -Saul finally rewarding Simeone for showing him trust with that curling goal.
    -Filipe Luis, I think is unsung hero for majority of Atletico matches. Great performance again.
    -But two unnecessary yellow cards for Filipe and Gabi made me frustrated. But we can expect few interesting changes, maybe Thomas getting starting role alongside Koke and Saul which will be interesting.

  • Hannu

    Those yellow cards were intentional and with Lucas at left and Koke-Saul or Thomas we should be fine.

  • Usavicente Calderon

    I agree with you. I think they fouled on purpose to skip the next game and reset.

  • Usavicente Calderon

    I can agree with everything you said.

  • Dealer

    Nico Schia will destroy Bayer 04 if he gets to play with the A team.