Atletico Madrid will host Bayern Munich in the Champions League, who will be looking to avenge their defeat in last season’s semi-final at the hands of Diego Simeone’s men.
The stage is set for Lewandowski & co to extract sweet revenge for last season’s semi-final defeat at the hands of Atletico. The Bavarians will be looking to end a horrid run of form against Spanish teams in Europe, with Bayern getting knocked out of the competition by Spanish sides for the last three consecutive seasons. Ancelotti, on the other hand, has a fine record against Los Rojiblancos. During his time as manager of Chelsea and Real Madrid, the Italian did not taste defeat at the hand of Atletico in the Champions League. With both teams considerably weakened by injuries in different areas of the squad, it should be interesting to see whether one team can manage to inflict the first loss of the season on the other.
Simeone will be without Tiago, Cerci, Moyá, Augusto and Giménez for this clash against Bayern. While none of them are players that would start for Atletico, the lack of options on the bench might pose a threat for the Argentinian manager.
The defence, which is widely regarded as the best in world, is likely to be unchanged, with Luis and Juanfran on the flanks and Godin and Savic in front of Jan Oblak. The midfield trio will comprise of Gabi, Saul and Koke, with Nicolas Gaitan likely to come on during the later parts of the game if required.
There is no shortage of options for Simeone for his attacking trio, with everybody fit and firing. Torres is set to start against Bayern after impressing in their last few domestic game as a substitute. He will be flanked by Antoine Griezmann and young Belgian Yannick Carrasco. Gameiro and Angel Correa, who scored the equalizer against Barcelona, are both expected to feature in some capacity.
Simeone’s men will have to be content with minimal possession throughout large portions of the game. But it is on the counter-attack where they can be deadly, with the amount of quality in their forward line. Bayern Munich will have to be at their very best if they are to penetrate one of Europe’s best defences and we will mostly see Atletico sit back, with Gabi, Saul and Koke in the deeper role in midfield, helping the defence absorb the pressure before launching counter-attacks with Griezmann, Torres and Carrasco.
Predicted Starting XI: Jan Oblak; Juanfran, Diego Godin, Stefan Savic, Felipe Luis; Koke, Saul, Gabi; Antoine Griezmann, Fernando Torres, Yannick Carrasco
Mat Hummels was a big injury concern going into this tie, but the former Borussia Dortmund captain returned to training on Monday morning. He is ready to face Atletico tonight, but it is yet to be seen whether Ancelotti would be willing to risk him so soon. Lahm and Alaba will take the flanks and it is likely that Javi Martinez will partner Jerome Boateng in the center of defence for this tie.
Thiago Alcantara, Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso are expected to make up the Bavarian midfield, with Alonso taking the more deeper defensive midfielder role. Youngster Joshua Kimmich may start alongside Vidal in a midfield pivot should Ancelotti opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ribery and Robben taking up the flanks and Muller playing off Lewandowski in the number 10 role. But it is unlikely, given that Robben is yet to return to full fitness and the solidity and experience that Alonso brings to the Bavarian midfield isn’t something the Italian may want to sacrifice.
In light of that, Lewandowski is the obvious choice for the main striker. Franck Ribery will take his place on the left flank and because Douglas Costa won’t be available for this game and Robben isn’t fully fit, Muller will likely start on the right.
Predicted Starting XI: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Martinez, Boateng, David Alaba; Thiago Alcantara, Xabi Alonso, Arturo Vidal; Franck Ribery, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller
- Both Robert Lewandowski and Antoine Griezmann have scored 5 goals in their respective domestic leagues so far.
- Both Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid have conceded only 2 goals in their last 7 games this season, in all competitions.
- Bayern Munich have scored 25 goals in their last 7 games in all competitions.
- Atletico Madrid have scored 13 goals in their last 7 games in all competitions.
- Both Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich won their previous matches in their respective leagues by a 1-0 scoreline.
- Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti has never lost to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Players To Watch
The Frenchman is leading the goalscoring charts for Simeone’s men this season and will once again be the main man in the Atletico attack. The Vicente Calderon will look to him to help them edge past the Bayern Munich defence. Griezmann will have good memories of the last time he faced Manuel Neuer in goal, during the European Champions semi-final in France, when he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory for Les Bleus. The 25-year-old also scored the winner in last season’s second leg semi-final tie at the Allianz Arena which helped them qualify for the Champions League final, and will surely be looking to do the same once more.
Atletico Madrid 1-1 Bayern Munich
Few can say that they have come to the Vicente Calderon and gotten the better of Diego Simeone’s men. Despite what the players say in the media, this Bayern Munich side will still be reeling from last season’s semi-final defeat and will surely be out for revenge. Atletico, backed by history and their home crowd, will want to repeat last season’s heroics and prove that it wasn’t a one-off. With both sides almost equal in terms of quality, it’s highly unlikely that we will witness a landslide victory for either team at the end of the ninety minutes. But we will almost definitely witness a hard fought match.