Bayern Munich’s hopes of reaching the Champions League final were dealt a major blow after they suffered 1-0 loss at the hands of Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the semi final on Wednesday.
A stellar performance by the Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez put Bayern in a spot of bother in the first leg, as the 21 year old dribbled his way past five defenders to score a wonderful solo effort in the first half.
Bayern Munich kept 71 per cent possession during the entire game, taking a total of 16 shots, as opposed to Atletico’s seven. However, Bayern boss Pep Guardiola believes that his team should have done more in order to get a positive result out of this match.
He explained after the match that the only way his side would have won the game is by being in control of the football for the entirety of the game.
“75 percent of our play was super, the last 20, 25 minutes of the first half and the entire second half. We created enough chances,” Guardiola was quoted saying on Bayern Munich’s official website. “But at this level, in the Champions League, you need 90 instead of 75 good minutes, we know that. We have to learn from it and see to it that it doesn’t happen again on Tuesday.”
Saul gets praise from all quarters
Not only did Saul score a wonderful solo goal to give his side a narrow lead to take to the Allianz Arena next week, but also put in an excellent shift in defence. In fact, he make five successful tackles, along with having a 100 per cent success rate at tackling.
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 27, 2016
The young Spaniard received praises from all quarters, after this performance, with Pep Guardiola even claiming that Spanish football now has “another great talent”.
“I admire Saúl’s quality. I have seen him before, he is a great player: Spanish football has another great talent,” Guardiola was quoted saying on UEFA’s official website.
However, the Catalan manager went on to urge the football world to not compare him to 5 time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. “I don’t know him personally but I have a lot of respect for the quality Saul has,” said Guardiola (via goal.com). “But it would be good for him not to compare him with Messi.”
Its time to take Atletico seriously
Spanish football has long endured the duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Although the likes of Valencia, Villarreal and Malaga have posed brief challenges to this duopoly in the past one and a half decade, their moments of glory have never really lasted long.
However, Atletico Madrid are here to stay. It started off with Atletico Madrid winning the 2013/14 La Liga title. They followed it up that season by making it to the final of the Champions League, where they lost out to Real Madrid in extra time.
This season Atletico have again been competing on both the domestic and the European fronts, and have a good chance of completing the double ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona. They have shown with their performances this season that the two traditional Spanish powerhouses cannot take the Rojiblancos lightly anymore.