With Bayern Munich set to kick off another Champions League campaign, UEFA have handed us the toughest possible draw. Atletico Madrid, the bane of any top club’s existence, stands in the way of Hansi Flick and a perfect UCL record. We caught up with our friends over at Into the Calderon, SB Nation’s site for all things Atleti-related, for their opinion on the transfer.
Here’s what they said:
1. Atletico Madrid knocked out a high-pressing team in Liverpool last season. Who are your keys to dealing with our aggressive press?
Frankly, Atlético’s success on Wednesday probably will hinge on an inspired Jan Oblak. The second leg of the Liverpool tie saw Atlético’s defense overwhelmed despite its good structure, and the world’s best goalkeeper (no offense) was the first, second, and third reasons why Atleti still had a chance to progress in extra time. If he makes three or four clutch saves, Atleti will be in the game — despite bunkering close to or within their own 18-yard box.
Atlético will look to alleviate pressure with clearances or through winning the ball back in central midfield, where Koke or Lucas Torreira will try to pry it free for João Félix to push ahead the other way.
2. How will Simeone set up his offense to deal with Bayern’s defense?
Atlético will not have the ball very much, but will look to move it around quickly in midfield and find ways to set up opportunities for new guy Luis Suárez. Yannick Carrasco and Marcos Llorente are direct and creative with the ball at their feet, and both will try to use his speed to cut inside from the wings to draw fouls or create scoring opportunities.
3. The two FCB’s gave you 200m last summer for Griezmann and Hernandez. Did you guys manage to replace them?
We did, for the most part. Félix had an inconsistent, injury-plagued first season, but he looks like a man possessed so far in 2020/21 and has gained Simeone’s trust. His work rate has improved, and he continues to tap into his immense talent and technical ability as he tries to become the attacking focal point.
Atlético used the Lucas money to buy four new defenders, who cost around €87 million total. In particular, former Porto center back Felipe has been excellent when fit, while left back Renan Lodi has emerged as a highly-valuable player less than 18 months after coming over from Brazil.
4. What did Simeone get wrong against RB Leipzig last season? Has he learned his lesson?
Simeone’s midfield could not count on the injured (and now departed) Thomas Partey and could not gain any control over the game. Leipzig changed attack points very well and left Atlético with few attacking ideas until Félix entered the match. But even then, Leipzig made their own luck and won the match with a fortunate deflection.
It’s hard to say if Simeone will have learned from that night in Lisbon. He has coached this team for almost nine years and the attacking strategy hasn’t changed much — it is reliant on his players’ individual quality and clinical finishing inside the area. That said, games against superteams like Bayern allow him to switch back to basics — two organized banks of four that force lateral passing and crosses that defenders can handle.
5. Who do you see as the biggest threat on this current Bayern team?
I see half the team as threatening to Atlético! Both full backs are going to have their hands full with the likes of Alphonso Davies and Serge Gnabry around. Thomas Müller can pop up anywhere in the final third and prove tricky to track, and Atleti are going to have to keep the ball away from Robert Lewandowski — the last time these two met, in 2016, Stefan Savić (a likely starter on Wednesday) did a great job on him. To say “he will have to do it again” is an understatement.
Huge thanks to the folks over at Into the Calderon for making this Q&A possible! Check out their version of the same, with answers given by yours truly. Stick around for a lot more news ans analysis on the tie, coming out shortly. Auf geht’s!