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Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, Champions League 2016 preview: Into the Fire

Only Atletico Madrid stand between Bayern Munich and another UEFA Champions League Final.

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

For the fifth consecutive season, Bayern Munich will face a team from Spain's La Liga in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League. With the first leg taking place at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, Bayern will need a stout defensive effort in addition to a goal or two.

Pep Guardiola's legacy at Bayern hangs in the balance for many fans. They see anything other than a Champions League victory this season as a complete and utter failure and an indictment on the entire Guardiola era. Guardiola will be furious with himself if he is knocked out of the Champions League in three consecutive seasons to three different Spanish teams.

The hopes of a "beautifully played" Final rest on the shoulders of Bayern. There's no questioning the talent and skill on display for Atleti on any given matchday, but there are few neutrals that will argue that they're "fun to watch".

Opponent: Atlético MadridInto the Calderon

Coach: Pep Guardiola

League position: Bayern are currently in first place in the Bundesliga, seven points ahead of second place Borussia Dortmund.

Probable starting lineup: (very fluid 4-1-4-1) Manuel Neuer; David Alaba, Javi Martinez, Joshua Kimmich, Philipp Lahm; Xabi Alonso; Franck Ribery, Thomas Müller, Arturo Vidal, Douglas Costa; Robert Lewandowski

Potential game-changers off the bench: Thiago Alcantara, Kingsley Coman, Mario Götze

How they got here: Bayern won Group F ahead of Arsenal, Olympiacos, and Dinamo Zagreb. In the Round of 16, Bayern edged Juventus after extra time before knocking a game Benfica out of the Quarterfinals.

You'll know things are going well for Bayern if this is happening: Control. It always comes back to control for any Pep Guardiola team. They play defense by having possession, and if they can reduce the number of Atleti counterattacks, they can snuff them out easier.

Bayern might be in trouble if you see a lot of this: If Atleti are able to hit Bayern on the counter and regularly get behind Martinez and Kimmich, they could find themselves in a world of hurt.

This is the reason Bayern will advance to the Champions League final: Man-for-man, Bayern are a better team than Atleti. However, the big difference between these two clus will be the two years of frustration built up at Bayern. After being knocked out of the Champions League Semifinals by Real Madrid and Barcelona, they won't let another Spanish side eliminate them.

Our full preview is still to come.

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