In a cagey UEFA Champions League group stage game, Spanish giants Atletico Madrid edged Bayern Munich 1-0. Belgian winger Yannick Carrasco grabbed the winning goal in the contest and won three points for Los Rojiblancos
Here are the takeaways from the game:
Simeone wins the tactical battle and hands Ancelotti his first defeat as Bayern boss
The moment the draws were made, this one was billed as a pulsating game. Two teams, at the top of their game, playing with different philosophies, is always a treat to the eye. While the game may have been a tad cagey, it was still an intriguing tactical battle between attack and defence, and it was Diego Simeone who managed to trump his opposite number Carlo Ancelotti.
The Spanish tactician set his team out after studying the strengths and weakness of the opposition, and it was due to his pragmatism that Atletico could come out of the game with three points. He ordered his defenders to mark the Bavarian attackers and seldom were they given any room in the attacking third.
Jan Oblak puts up a performance of the highest order
Ever since the departure of David de Gea, Jan Oblak has taken over the mantle and has emerged as an impressive goalkeeper for Los Rojiblancos. The Chilean stopper is one of most athletic and agile keepers in the world today, and was solid on Wednesday against Bayern.
Oblak made a number of stunning saves from point-blank range to maintain his clean sheet. His best moment of the game came when he denied Thomas Muller from scoring, after the German’s volley from seven yards looked set to go into the goal.
Atletico defence resolute from the outset, keeping the likes of Muller and Lewandowski at bay
Diego Godin and Stefan Savic were absolutely incredible at the back for Diego Simeone’s side. They looked to complement each other at the heart of defence, and proved to be a nightmare for Lewandowski and co.
The Polish attacker is probably one of the better strikers of the ball in the modern era, but was given no room to find himself space in and around the 18-yard-area. Thomas Muller started out on the right and moved in to the middle on a number of occasions, but was often dispossessed due to an organized and efficient Atleti defence.
Antoine Griezmann had a game to forget in front of goal
Griezmann, along with Fernando Torres, fired blanks up-front for Atletico Madrid. Much like their opponents, Bayern too were resolute and structured defensively and kept tracking the runs of the Atletico players.
Torres came close to scoring on three occasions in the first half, but lacked the composure to put the ball past Manuel Neuer in goal. Despite playing the assist for Carrasco’s goal, Griezmann was from impressive with his finishing. His missed penalty pretty much summed up the game for the strikers.
The Spanish side are already looking like one of the favourites to lift the elusive trophy
Last season, Simeone’s men narrowly missed out on the chance to lift the coveted UEFA Champions League trophy. Had it not been for Real Madrid’s late fightback, Los Rojiblancos would have etched their name in European folklore.
Many expected the Atletico players to be a shadow of their old selves after losing two finals within the span of three seasons, but two games into the new campaign, and they already are atop their group, few points away from securing their pathway into the knockout stages.
Against one of the best sides on paper, they rarely looked vulnerable and were focused since the word go. The were tidy in possession, had good pass awareness and were stern on the defensive end. Simeone can be happy with the response his side has shown this season, and he could begin to dream big once again.
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