Atletico Madrid head into their Champions League semi-finals as slight underdogs against the Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, who are playing their fifth semis against the Spanish opposition in a row.
Los Rojiblancos are entering the photo-finish of an exciting season that got them engaged in a three-way battle for La Liga title as well as the UEFA Champions League. Diego Simeone’s men have warmed up for the Wednesday’s duel with a minimal 1-0 win over Malaga and Atletico Madrid boss will be asking for a more convincing display this time around when his side plays host to Bayern Munich. The Colchoneros are motivated to make additional step in the competition as they are coming off from morale-boosting 3-2 aggregate win over Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the competition. Atletico Madrid are a fantastic defensive unit and rock solid backline is one of their biggest strengths in addition to lethal attack. Atleti are heading into the first leg versus Bayern on the back of four consecutive clean sheets and will most certainly look to extend their impressive home run in the competition. Namely, Diego Simeone’s men have conceded in only one of their 15 Champions League matches played on Vicente Calderon since September 2013.
Diego Godin remains out of action and Jose Gimenez is expected to be given an extended run alongside Lucas Hernandez in the heart of defence.
Fernando Torres is making his way back into the team having missed the second leg of the quarter-final against Barcelona through suspension. Thiago and Oliver Torres are unavailable for the match.
The Bavarians are handed a tough test in the UEFA Champions League semi-final, but the good thing is that they will be playing the second leg on their own ground and that is being considered a significant advantage in this competition. Heading into the first leg, Pep Guardiola’s men will need a stout defensive effort in order to bag a goal or two against a tightly packed team. The Spanish manager is bracing himself for a closing spell at Bayern’s helm and is determined to make his time count. The fans see anything other than a Champions League victory as a failure and Guardiola himself wants to leave his post with a bang so we should expect to see fully committed performance from the visiting team. Bayern’s form has not be on its usually impressive level of late and Bavarians are heading into the semi-finals on the back of a 2-2 draw in Lisbon a fortnight ago, having previously struggled to great extent to dispatch the Italian champions Juventus. On the bright side, Guardiola was able to rest the host of his first team choices at the weekend when his team make an important step forward in the Bundesliga with a 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin.
Philipp Lahm, David Alaba, Javi Martinez and Juan Bernat will be returning to defence after being rested for the weekend.
Kingsley Coman is recovering from his thigh problem and could be involved in the match, while Arjen Robben, Holger Badstruber and Jerome Boateng have all been ruled out.
Key Factors to Consider
- Atletico Madrid conceded only 1 goal in their last 5 matches
- Rojiblancos are coming off from 4 consecutive clean sheets
- Diego Simeone’s men have lost just 1 of their last 20 home games
- Bayern Munich are unbeaten away since December 2015
- Bavarians conceded 4 goals in their last two away Champions League matches
Having in mind Atletico Madrid’s defensive strength this is bound to be a low scoring affair. Atletico Madrid will be looking to catch the Bavarians on the break while the task is up to Pep Guardiola to try and establish his usual possession-oriented style of play.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals