Atletico Madrid play hosts to Bayern Munich on Tuesday in a must-win UEFA Champions League fixture at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Very few fans would have predicted that Bayern Munich’s upcoming game against Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday would be a dead rubber for the Bundesliga giants. But thanks to their excellent record in the Champions League this campaign that saw them secure wins in each of their four matches, the Bavarians have already secured their place at the top of Group A.
It is a completely different story for their midweek opponents, however, as Atletico Madrid fight to keep their hopes of qualifying to the next stage alive. The Spanish giants are currently second in the group table with five points on the board, but a defeat on Tuesday could allow third-placed Lokomotiv Moscow to potentially overtake them, should the Russians beat Red Bull Salzburg.
It could ultimately lead to a final matchday showdown where it will be imperative for Atletico to seal a point against Salzburg. However, Diego Simeone’s men could avoid such a scenario with a win over Bayern Munich this midweek. The hosts will be happy with a draw as well, since Los Colchoneros do have a lead against Lokomotiv in regards to head to head record in the group.
It is also fair to point out that Atletico have a long way since their early-season blues. In fact, they are unbeaten in all competitions since their 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich earlier, so we could brace ourselves for a more evenly contested battle at the Wanda Metropolitano this midweek. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides ahead of their crucial match-up in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
Team News & Tactics
THT’s analysis of Simeone’s newfound Atletico Madrid setup covered the impact of Mario Hermoso in the new pendulating left-back position. And we expect the ex-Real Madrid man to get the nod ahead of Renan Lodi even though the Brazilian is fit to feature in this game.
On paper, Simeone is likely to field a 4-4-2 meaning the two full-back positions will be occupied by Kieran Trippier and Hermoso, with Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez operating at centre-back. It could, however, shift into a back-five during defensive phases, which should see Hermoso dropping centrally and joining the two centre-backs.
The hole in the left wing-back position will then be filled by Yannick Carrasco, who will ideally feature as a left-winger in a classic 4-4-2 formation. Marcos Llorente is set to operate on the opposite flank while Koke and Saul Niguez are expected the form the double-pivot in the middle of the park.
These four players are set to operate narrowly and play a key role in the second line of press, offering very little space in between the lines for Bayern. They do, however, need to be aware of the opposition’s ability to thread long balls out from that back and that is where the two attackers could play a key role.
Unfortunately for Atletico, Luis Suarez remains a doubt as he is yet to test negative for the COVID-19. His absence means Angel Correa should feature alongside Joao Felix in the strike partnership. Their aggression and tenacity could play a key role in putting pressure on Bayern centre-backs while their pace on the break could be useful for the hosts on the counter.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso; Llorente, Koke, Saul, Carrasco; Correa, Felix
Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick will have to deal with a few notable absentees including key midfielders in Joshua Kimmich and Marc Roca. The former is out injured while the unfortunate Roca picked up a red card against Red Bull Salzburg and is, therefore, facing a suspension.
Roca’s absence guarantees a place for Javi Martinez in the starting eleven. The ageing Spaniard is set to partner Leon Goretzka in double pivot, with Flick unlikely to risk Corentin Tolisso, who returned from injury this past weekend. The Frenchman could appear as a second half substitute, however.
In defence, meanwhile, Bouna Sarr remains a doubt due to lack of fitness. His absence may even force Flick to deploy David Alaba at left-back as the German simply cannot risk Lucas Hernandez, especially with Alphonso Davies already ruled out and Bayern Munich facing a stern test against RB Leipzig on the weekend.
Alaba operating at centre-back could mean a lot of things, with Chris Richards, in particular, looking likely to get a rare starting opportunity. The young American may partner Niklas Sule at the heart of the four-man backline, with Benjamin Pavard retaining his place in the right-back position.
Finally, in attack, Flick could ring in the changes, providing Leroy Sane and Douglas Costa with a berth in the starting lineup, though both Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski will retain their place in the team.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Richards, Alaba; Martinez, Goretzka; Costa, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski
- This will be the eighth meeting between Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich in the European Cup/Champions League, with the Spanish side winning just two of the previous seven.
- Bayern Munich have won their last two games against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, as many as they had in their first five meetings in European competition combined.
- Atletico Madrid have won each of the previous two games they have hosted against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, with both victories coming by a 1-0 scoreline in 2016.
- After losing five consecutive away games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League between 2013/14 to 2016/17, Bayern Munich have avoided defeat in each of their last two such games – 2-1 vs Sevilla and 2-2 vs Real Madrid, both in 2017/18.
- Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has lost three of his five Champions League meetings with Bayern Munich – against no other opponent has he lost more often in the competition.
Player to Watch
It will be disappointing to see Atletico Madrid potentially missing out on the services of Luis Suarez this midweek, but as far as Bayern Munich are concerned, they will be banking their hopes on star striker Robert Lewandowski.
The Pole, after disappointing against Werder Bremen, returned to scoring form in the 3-1 win over Red Bull Salzburg last week. He also starred in the recent win over VfB Stuttgart, with his phenomenal strike just before half-time sealing all three points for his side. And on Tuesday, the ex-Dortmund star will be hoping to maintain his good run of form against Atletico Madrid.
Lewandowski had an off day during the 4-0 rout in the reverse fixture, and with Atleti improvising significantly since, it will be interesting to see how he manages to find the back of the net this midweek.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich have not looked in best touch after the end of the international break. They have lacked inventiveness going forward while their defence has been compromised far too many times over the past few weeks. And with Atletico Madrid heading into this game on the back of an excellent run of form, it won’t be surprising to see the hosts sealing a narrow victory on Tuesday.