Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Analysis: How Atletico Madrid Trumped The Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich

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Anas Molla
An ageing teenager who apparently still likes Twenty One Pilots and HIMYM. Also fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythology and history. Still waiting for my man Milos Raonic to win a Grand Slam.

The appointment of Carlo Ancelotti failed to better Bayern’s record against Atletico Madrid as the Bavarians again slumped to a 1:0 defeat at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday. The penalty miss from Antoine Griezmann didn’t cost at the end as an accurate drive from Yannick Ferreira Carrasco before the half time was enough to seal the night for Atletico.


Head coach Diego Simone missed young Uruguayan defender Jose Gimenez due to injury, he was replaced by Montenegrin defender Stefan Savic, who was accompanied by another Uruguayan in Diego Godin with Felipe Luis and Juanfran playing as fullbacks.

The backline was guarded the two midfielders in Saul and Gabi whilst Belgian Carrasco and Spanish international Koke was slotted into the wide midfield positions.

New signing Kevin Gameiro was left out from the starting lineup by Simeone as Fernando Torres partnered alongside Atletico superstar Antoine Griezmann.

For Bayern, coach Carlo Ancelotti opted for a more experienced lineup, leaving out in form young Joshua Kimmich from the starting XI.

The defence comprised of Javi Martinez, who retained his pace in the squad after an impressive start to the season, alongside Jerome Boateng with Philip Lahm and David Alaba playing as wingbacks.

Xabi Alonso guarded the defence with Arturo Vidal and Thiago assisting in him in midfield.

In attack, the front three of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Franck Ribery was deployed by manager Carlo Ancelotti.

End to end start and Atleti’s game plan

Like always, the game started in high octane fashion with Atleti players pressing down Bayern even in their own half. There were many aspects in Diego Simeone’s team which bestowed their amazing performance on Wednesday night.

The signature formation of Simeone, the 4-4-2 formation gave Atletico a very flexible shape within the game. They tend to maintain the 4-4-2 in attack while a 4-3-3 shape takes charge when pressing out Bayern from the back. Atletico also used a 6-3-1 formation when parking the bus against Bayern.

The two forwards especially played an important role of bringing down the Bayern’s two centre backs. The advantage of having an extra forward gave Simeone a 2v2 situation against the two centre backs with the holding midfielder Xabi Alonso completely taken out by Saul when dropped infield. The experienced midfielder managed a poor rating of 5.8 by whoscored.

This stopped Bayern’s flow from the back and the attacking wingbacks in Lahm and Alaba were forced to drop back to help the defenders. Meanwhile, the fullbacks, themselves struggled, especially David Alaba, the Austrian had a rough night keeping up with Atletico’s intensity as he got dispossessed twice in the match.

Atletico Madrid’s fullbacks also played an essential role in Diego Simeone’s brilliant tactical setup. Especially, in attack, the two fullbacks were very crucial for Los Colchoneros.

The fact that both of Atletico’s fullbacks in Juanfran and Felipe Luis possess a very good control with the ball, it helps them act almost as a winger, while their good knowledge of positioning makes them a handy set for head coach Diego Simeone and his troops.

Against Bayern, Felipe Luis and Juanfran was frequently seen as the wide midfielders, yielding in crosses or helping out the front two while the initial wingers in Carrasco and Koke, stayed close to the two central midfielders, to keep the midfield narrow and compact, which is essential for Atletico’s high intensity pressing.

Bayern Munich's Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti (R) looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group D football match Club Atletico de Madrid vs FC Bayern Munich at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid on September 28, 2016. / AFP / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Felipe Luis was voted the man of the match by whoscored, managing a rating of 9.2. The Brazilian left back, completed seven dribbles with an accuracy of 78%, an aerial win percentage of 100% and also successfully managing to complete all his tackles.

Another key player in Atletico’s setup was Gabi, the 33-year-old veteran midfielder sat in front of the Atleti defence and was one of their main players pressing out the opponent. Gabi made two key interceptions in the game, while also winning all of his headed duels.

The extreme quick transition from attack to defence and vice versa by Atletico proved too much for Carlo Ancelotti’s side at the end. At the 35th minute, the home side won back possession in the middle of the field, before embarking on a quick counter attack through Carrasco. The Belgian International put up a great run before firing in a lovely shot past the outstretched limbs of Manuel Neuer and into the back of the net via the bar post.

Bayern failed to muster a goal against their nemesis in recent years. In the closing stages, they set up their camp in Atletico’s half. Lewandowski’s glancing header went wide just past Oblak’s right post while Arjen Robben arrowed a low shot narrowly wide.

Griezmann then squandered the chance to put the game to bed as his penalty crashed off the woodwork. However, it didn’t cost Atletico too much at the end, as Diego Simeone’s side extend their impressive run at home to 26 wins in 31 European games.

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