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Monday February 18 2019
Assessing Atleti

Atletico Madrid were considered the pluckiest of last-16 opponents for Juventus in the Champions League. Football Espana’s Colin Millar explains why…

Teams cannot be picky about opposition sides in the Champions League knockout stages, but of all the sides Juventus could have been paired with, Atletico Madrid would surely have been last. 

Diego Simeone’s outfit are stylistically in a similar mould to the Bianconeri. They prioritise defensive solidity and take pride in the organisation, cohesion and work-rate. Los Rojiblancos are also a side built for the rigours of cup knockout football, rather than record-setting League points total. They’ve lost just one of their opening 21 La Liga matches this season but a plethora of draws – eight so far in the League, six of which came away from home – have restricted any ambitions of a prolonged title pursuit.

Hopes were high during the summer that this could be the season when Atleti won their first League title since their memorable triumph of 2014. Diego Costa had a full preseason behind him and a variety of exciting new signings had arrived. Highly-rated holding midfielder Rodri Hernandez joined to replace outgoing club captain Gabi Fernandez, while the attacking ranks were also bolstered. Thomas Lemar arrived from Monaco in a club-record €60m deal, while Gelson Martins was bought from Sporting CP and Nikola Kalinic came in from Milan. 

Atleti’s attacking play has once more been brought under the spotlight this term. Antoine Griezmann is the only player to score more than two League goals, while Costa recently broke a nine-month Liga scoring drought in November but has not featured since due to injury. Gelson started just one League match before departing for Monaco on loan, Lemar has only netted in one League game and Kalinic is now without a goal in his last eight Liga appearances. Alvaro Morata, formerly of Juve, has since been signed on a long-term loan deal from Chelsea and the debate now is whether or not he will retain his starting spot whenever Costa regains fitness. 

A lack of prolific strikers will not stop Los Rojiblancos being considered a major force in Europe. In the last seven seasons, they have won two Europa League titles and twice reached the Champions League showpiece, only to lose on each occasion to Real Madrid. Indeed, somewhat incredibly, Atleti’s city rivals are the one side to defeat them in a European knockout match in the last five campaigns.

Juve’s 2015 semi-final triumph over Real Madrid was the only time a side from the Spanish capital has been defeated in a European knockout tie across the past six seasons. Interestingly, Morata was on target in both matches for the Old Lady, while Cristiano Ronaldo also found the net in each leg for Los Blancos. These two protagonists have now switched sides but, four years on, their attacking threat is likely to once again define a tie between Europe’s most defensively-disciplined sides.

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Have your say...
People actually still care about our coefficient lol. Since UEFA expanded it to the top 4 countries we dont have to worry about our points as France are so far behind.
on the 20th February, 2019 at 3:33pm
Its also a fact that 80% of the ppl posting on this site are idiots. There are plenty of case studies illustrating it which is probably a big picture of yourself. Check it out. Its fact not ignorance . Hahahahha hahaaa seriously where do you ppl come from. What have you been doing for the past 8 yrs hahahahha is feb 19 international dumb day ? Jeez get a real life man hahahahah
on the 19th February, 2019 at 7:49pm
On a serious not FI. Start deleting some of these comments before anyone views them please. Sensible readers are beginning to get turned off by the ammount of garbage that is allowed to be spewed by incompetent morons. You leave these idiots to write this crap over and over i mean seriously is your site for 12 yr olds now. Jeez ppl. Social media really ruin this world. If you want proof. Look no further hahahahah what a bunch of sad and salty little nobody fans supporting nobody teams. Not my pb
on the 19th February, 2019 at 7:44pm
Yes gino you are certainly correct buddy. But, only in sad loser weird world where these dumb comments make sense to you alone. Or maybe juve bought cr7 to cheat because surely with the best player in the world you still need to do that hahahah yes and cheat their way to two cl finals and then not cheat at the final itself.all these things make aboslete sense. In your world only hahah. Ill continue counting trophies in the mean time hahahhahahahhahahah haaaaaaaa
on the 19th February, 2019 at 7:38pm
Most of juve titles have been decided at end of season with certain games and certain calls that sway games and mentality of game and opposing teams. You can go as deep as you want in CL but 2nd place is always 1st best loser. There is a reason you have not been able to finish since 96 and that little fix here and there is where juve lose there strategy because they are used to that help in italy. There are plenty of case studies online illustrating it, check it out. Its fact not ignorance.
on the 19th February, 2019 at 4:48pm
Forza athletico

you will make italy proud tonight if you thump Rubentus!

They deserve their Karma for all the cheating they have done over the years!

Rube senza palle in europe!
on the 19th February, 2019 at 3:48pm
I hope Juve get their Champions League & do their epic slack off like Inter-2010
on the 19th February, 2019 at 11:28am
@Gino Pallino: you do realize how stupid you sound when you bring in Juve and refs right? It's 2019 Einstein! WAKE UP LOL! Juve have been toying with your team and everyone else in Italy for the past 8 years with deep runs in UCL. You must be stuck under a rock... but hey ignorance is bliss!
on the 19th February, 2019 at 8:06am
a.madrid are not as strong defensively as they were in previous years. I believe juve can get 1 or 2 away goals.
on the 19th February, 2019 at 5:53am
Juve suck, Ronaldo will be useless as usual dont look at Real Madrid when he won (3) CL. Real stole 2 out of 3 from officiating and Uefa favortism. Juve will choke as they usually do as they are used to having officials aid them as in Serie A. They dont know how to win through professional play. That is why they cannot win title in CL. Cheaters eventually will fall.
on the 18th February, 2019 at 11:49pm
I expect this to be an extremely boring game; as in, as boring as the last time they played and over 2 ties scored one goal. I consider Juve to be 55/45 favorites to win the game, just because there is a Ronaldo factor that separates the two teams. How well he does determines whether or not Juve will win this tie. I think Juve should have what it takes to win this one. If It could comes down to incidents and excuses then I consider it a failure from Allegri to play all his weapons to win the tie. The side is mature, complete in all parts of the field, can be flexed from a 5-3-2 to a 4-2-4 with a world class player in every position. There’s no question that Allegri has all the tools to outwit his counterpart.
on the 18th February, 2019 at 11:38pm
Gino Pallino an Inter fan gone wrong? Sour grapes never make a great argument, nor a true comment.
Juve must score in Madrid.
on the 18th February, 2019 at 11:10pm
juve sure know what to expect. it is in their knowing sooner or later hill ought to be climbed. weakness is less important than the experience and team function that juve has. i suggest juve to make the bbc geared up for the next hurdles of cl. it is in the defence and attack that will necessarrily decide juventas fate...
on the 18th February, 2019 at 6:00pm
Who needs Ronaldo, next season the mighty Ramsey arrives.
on the 18th February, 2019 at 5:52pm
They are no match for juventus. JUVE will beat them home and away if they are serious!
on the 18th February, 2019 at 5:29pm
Atleti will be hungry. With Real Madrid playing so poorly they will see it as their year to win. Juve better come prepared.
on the 18th February, 2019 at 5:14pm
This will be a great game with 2 very defensive style of teams.

Difficult to call so will say Forza Athletico!

Rube will not have the help of the refs this time so great chance for the Spanish!
on the 18th February, 2019 at 5:09pm
Tho I'm Romanista & despise Juve, I hope Juve can go thru the next round (definitely with Roma) for the good of Serie A & UEFA rankings.
on the 18th February, 2019 at 3:36pm

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