After Leicester City’s amazing English Premier League triumph, it is but fitting that underdogs forever (and of Madrid), Atletico are on verge of their second Champions League final in three years over mighty Bayern Munich. The market odds suggest that winner of UEFA Champions League 2015-16 will likely be one of these two teams (and not Manchester City or Real Madrid), which would, either ways, eclipse a romantic story.
Historical patterns :
As mentioned in my leg 1 preview, Guardiola’s teams have struggled at semi-final stages of Champions league vs teams with robust defences. As Barcelona manager, his team lost in 2010 to Inter Milan and then in 2012 to Chelsea. Both ties were lost by 2-3 score lines and in both return legs, played at home, his team played with a man advantage for majority of the game.
Yet, could not manage to nick the tie. This tie seems to be following that pattern with all to do to overturn a first leg 1-0 deficit.
The main reason for his failures is that Guardiola has poor away record in Champions League knock out games. In 21 away ties (for Barcelona and Bayern Munich), he has won just four and only one vs a top level team (Real Madrid in 2011). However it’s his imperious home record which gives him place in history.
While Pep Guardiola defines stupendous consistency – seventh Champions League semi final in his seventh year of coaching – Diego Simeone defines some untouchable managing highs. His Atletico Madrid make and sell big players year after year; but never sell their dreams.
Of the team which reached the 2014 Champions League Final, only four players – Gabi, Koke, Godin and Felipe Luis – remain in his current squad. But he still drives them towards excellence.
I did average of top betting sites and this is what the markets say.
Bayern Munich win : 75%
Draw : 16%
Atletico Madrid win : 9%
Naturally Bayern’s home supremacy (11 wins in Champions league games ever since they lost to Real Madrid in 2014) is rewarded, but a deeper look at the tie reveals that Atletico’s defensive abilities are even more trusted.
Bayern Munich to go to final : 37%
Atletico Madrid to go to final : 63%
Diego Godin’s absence was expected to be a key factor in Leg 1 and yet Cholo’s team managed a precious clean sheet at home. Godin is now back, so is Carrasco, which gives Simeone his preferred XI to start.
For Bayern Munich, Robben is out and Ribery is a doubt. Guardiola won’t dare repeat the mistake of benching Muller. If Bayern has to go through, it will happen only with significant contribution from Thomas Muller. Kinglsey Coman will likely come in as a substitute, as he did on that historical night vs Juventus.
The odds won’t swing either ways when line-ups are announced, barring any last-minute injury.
Atletico Madrid: Oblak; Luis, Hernández, Giménez, Juanfran; Carrasco, Gabi, Koke, Níguez; Griezmann, Torres
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Lahm, Martínez, Boateng, Alaba; Alonso, Vidal; Costa, Ribéry; Müller, Lewandowski.
Form guide and Fine print:
It’s clear Simeone will start with two strikers, and look, at the outset, to score. That one away goal will ensure Bayern needs to score three goals vs a team who have seven consecutive clean sheets now (in all competitions) and are 602 minutes since they last conceded (to Espanyol).
Since February, only twice have they conceded two or more goals in a game. On 19th march to Sporting Gijon in La Liga and 5th April to Luis Suarez in Champions league. Both games finished 1-2; a result not enough for Bayern Munich to progress tonight. Hence all signs point towards another stellar night for the Rojoblancos.
Pep Guardiola, meanwhile, orchestrates his last Champions league home game for Bayern Munich. Unless Bayern take a 2-0 lead by half time, it’s tough to see the Bavarian club going through. In which case, Pep’s tenure, despite three semi-final appearances will fall short of expectations. Bayern fans may overcome that sooner, as coming weekend, they will find themselves celebrating yet another Bundesliga title.
Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, look all set to steal Leicester City’s underdog thunder!
Bayern to score, Atletico to score; an open game and goals galore, but not enough for Bayern to reach the shore! 2-2!