Atletico are a beast licking their wounds after a 0-4 drubbing from bayern munich in their opening group stage match. we also had our troubles in our opener, making everything set for a huge encounter in madrid.
The UEFA Champions League has a habit of bringing the same stories to us, a bit like an uncle who visits once a year. Once again we were left hearing that it was our clinicalness that separated us from more success. After a few days to reflect, we have the chance to make that up in the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday, even if it will be a Herculean task.
red and white rascals
Our Red Bulls are to face perhaps the most interesting permanent member of the European football elite. When Diego Simeone took charge of Atletico Madrid in 2011, he was unproven as a coach with the club far from being a force in even their home country. El Cholo had experience in Argentina, winning the title there with Estudiantes. His first job in Europe, at Catania, ended after just four months in charge, however. It was Atletico that made him a star coach, however. In 2014 he cemented his place in the hearts of all the Rojiblancos' fans by ending their 18-year wait for a Spanish title. In the UEFA Champions League he took the club into the final in 2014 and 2016, the latter of which they lost on penalties.
He is a man who can create a lot from very little and is extremely pragmatic. Atletico have no time for aesthetics or philosophy. Simeone's side play the way he did as a footballer, with no frills but no end of toughness. Six years after El Cholo completed the incredible achievement of winning the title, he still makes Atletico play in the underdogs role. It hasn't always been an advantage, with the club's ambitious owners bringing a host of highly talented players into the squad and some, like Thomas Lemar, struggling to make the most of their ability in a defensive 4-4-2 system. Record signing Joao Felix is still working on fulfilling his full potential. Combative types like Diego Costa, Koke or Gimenez, on the other hand, have no trouble fitting in.
a crack in the armour?
Atletico are renowned as a team that are difficult to play against, let alone beat. They aren't succeeding these days as easily as in the past with Simeone's pragmatic approach of trying to disarm opponents and knocking them back with high intensity and individual brilliance up front. Opponents are starting to find a way to respond. Their relative lack of comfort on the ball and a rigid 4-4-2 means they struggle to find a way through deep sitting defences. Allowing them to bring the game to you and hitting them on the break is a proven counter strategy, albeit with the risk of losing the ball to them with their high gegenpressing.
learning on the job
Two matches against defensively focused opponents could prove to be the perfect preparation for the match against the Spanish outfit. Lokomotiv Moscow play the same system as Atletico, and Austria Vienna have a similar one. Remaining patient, using the chances we have and keeping players back while we are in possession will be key. Countering a flat 4-4-2 with another flat 4-4-2 can allow for a solid defensive base against Altetico, but does not make quick transitions too easy. The 4-2-3-1 that Jesse Marsch tried in the summer could also be an option.
It's new and allows you to follow all the events LIVE. Our Champions Lounge will bring our match against Atletico Madrid into your living room. From 20:45 CET we will describe proceedings in German on a live stream on Youtube, our app and website. Our Bullenfunk commentators Andreas Grassl and Manuel Buckel will analyse the Champions League opener together with Andres Torres, with plenty of enthusiasm guaranteed. You have to watch it!
Our Champions Lounge will go on air 15 minutes before kick-off!
Antoine Bernede is out with a broken shin.
Atletico are under a little pressure after the first match, and they will want to make us feel it. We have to keep on playing bravely, playing our own football and performing confidently. That will give us the chance to play well even against such a strong team.
An away match at Atletico would be a big challenge for us in any circumstances. That they lost 0-4 at Bayern Munich will definitely not make our task any easier. I am really looking forward to seeing what we will face and how we will deal with the situation.
most recent clashes with spanish teams:
22.02.2018 FC Salzburg 2–1 Real Sociedad
15.02.2018 Real Sociedad 2–2 FC Salzburg
26.02.2015 FC Salzburg 1–3 Villarreal
19.02.2015 Villarreal 1–2 FC Salzburg