Tag Archives: DIego Simeone

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In one of the biggest ties of the round, current reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid take on Premier League giants Manchester United for a place in the quarter-finals.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to Last 16

Atletico Madrid made it through to the knockout stages by the skin of their teeth in a poor group stage by their own standards.

Diego Simeone’s side suffered defeat home and away to Liverpool and they were beaten at home by AC Milan, but a final day win over FC Porto saw them claim the runners-up spot in the group.

They scored seven goals in the six games, conceding eight but crazily there were seven red cards in their group stage games too to show the frustration they carried.

Manchester United overcame a tough start to their group win finish top with a game to spare, despite changing managers during the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in all five of his appearances to help United claim wins over Villarreal home and away and Atalanta at Old Trafford but they failed to beat lowly Club Brugge at all.

United scored a total of 11 goals int heir six group games, conceding eight and only managing to keep one clean sheet.

Team news

Atletico Madrid are facing several injury issues with all of Daniel Wass, Matheus Cunha and Yannick Carrasco ruled out of the game, while Thomas Lemar, Koke and Mario Hermoso doubtful.

Simeone was seen in training with a lineup consisting of a back-five, with January signing Reinildo as a centre-back, while Joao Felix and Luis Suarez could start together. Angel Correa is pushing for a start though following his good form.

Ralf Rangnick’s options are much better, with Edinson Cavani expected to be fit following a groin injury that has seen him miss the last few games.

Marcus Rashford has recently found himself on the bench after some poor form, so Anthony Elanga could get a start while Jadon Sancho will look to continue his excellent form. Ronaldo will continue up front.

Breakdown and Prediction

Atletico still have a reputation of being a defensive side with little intention to play attacking football, but that isn’t the case anymore.

The team have kept just three clean sheets since the turn of the year and have lost eight of their last 15 games in all competitions.

Manchester United on the other hand have been struggling with their performances in recent weeks, but the results haven’t taken a massive hit so far under Rangnick.

Across 90 minutes, they’ve lost just once since he became manager in 14 games but they’re yet to win three games in a row in all competitions this season. They won their last two, with a 3-0 win over Brighton and 4-2 win over Leeds.

This game is likely to be tight with both sides relatively low on confidence in their performance, despite the difference in their results.

Home advantage is likely to play a big part in both games, but I do feel that Man United will be able to progress because they have more goals in their team.

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Atletico Madrid
(Manchester United qualify 2-1 on aggregate)

Is Diego Simeone’s time at Atletico Madrid over?

If this had been mentioned back in December, you would’ve been laughed out of the room but Diego Simeone’s time at Atletico Madrid could very well be coming to an end.

A two-time Champions League finalist, a La Liga title winner in the Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo era, a two-time Europa League winner and a Copa Del Rey winner – the Argentine has done it all.

Yet the way the current campaign has gone, it seems as though he has lost the magic touch he once had.

At one point in the season, Los Colchoneros found themselves with an 11 point lead at the top of La Liga. They had a big lead with games in hand and even managed to concede just ten goals in their first 20 league games of the season. They were dominant.

A switch to 3-5-2 in the middle of the campaign managed to get the best defensive performances out of his side that we’ve seen in a few years, almost a throwback to his great league winning sides. It also got a good attacking run from some of his forwards, with Luis Suarez hitting 19 league goals – an amount only bettered by Lionel Messi.

FC Barcelona v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga : News Photo

Yet by the end of match day 30, Atletico find themselves top by just one point with Real Madrid flying high and Barcelona still to face them before the end of the campaign.

They were one of the dark horses to win the Champions League when the draw was made too, supposed to be going against Frank Lampard’s drab Chelsea side while they were flying high. Instead, it was they who were drab and Thomas Tuchel’s Blues swept them aside with wins home and away and clean sheets in both games too.

Atletico Madrid have now won just four of their last 13 games in all competitions and don’t seem like they’re going to be turning their fortunes around any time soon. The most recent draw with Real Betis at the weekend was deemed a good result because of how badly they played, despite the fact they’d been displaced at the top of the table the night before when Real Madrid beat Barcelona in El Clasico.

They’ve lost their aggression in midfield, they look shaky at the back, they’re not clinical up front anymore and they’re missing the hunger from their entire team that has shaped the Simeone era.

The former defensive midfielder has made the team in the mirror image of what he was like as a player. Dogged, scrappy and with a win-at-all-costs mentality. It’s exactly what made them so feared in Europe under him in a two-legged affair and essentially turned a two-team league into a three-team league.

But now when you watch them, that’s all been drained out of them. He will no doubt go down as one of the best managers in their history but after a decade at the club it seems as though it’s best for all parties that it comes to an end now.

FBL-ESP-LIGA-ATLETICO-GETAFE : News Photo

He is the highest paid manager in the world and has strongly considered stepping away before, but it seems now that the time might be right. He has tried to evolve his squad to a more attacking outfit to coincide with growing expectations, but it just hasn’t quite worked out for him.

The squad is set up for a coach to come in and try and u-turn the squad from defensive powerhouse into a potent attacking threat.

However this season turns out, whether Atleti are able to be crowned champions or not, it’s the right time for pastures new. Simeone can take some time off if he wants, but he’ll also be thrown job offers like they’re candy if he wants to get stuck into a new project immediately too.

Atletic can scour the market for a progressive coach to better suit their talented squad and start making waves towards a new direction. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’ve hit a ceiling under the current regime and need to make a change.

It seems as though that is what has happened here. The two have run the course together and it’s time now to part ways.

Champions League last 16 predictions: Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

It’s Champions League time once again as the last 16 is back and the second round of fixtures commences.

Last week we saw the first eight teams compete, with some thrilling fixtures to take us through to the second leg and this week we’ll be hoping for more of the same – starting with La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid taking on the Premier League’s Chelsea.

Diego Simeone’s side currently sit at the head of the table, with a six point lead over closest rivals Real Madrid. Their recent form has seen them struggle massively though, with just two wins in their last five and this past weekend they suffered their first home defeat of the season courtesy of Levante.

Chelsea on the other hand have struggled this season and replaced manager Frank Lampard with Thomas Tuchel in January. Since his appointment the Blues had won five in a row and conceded just one goal prior to this weekend, before they were held to a 1-1 draw with Southampton.

Both teams have suffered with injuries and COVID-19 problems during the season so far. The west London side were without Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi at different points of the season while Atletico’s breakout has seen them contend with the absence of the likes of Joao Felix, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Lemar and Moussa Dembele.

Atletico de Madrid v Levante UD - La Liga Santander : News Photo

Despite that though, it’s injuries that have hampered Simeone’s side in recent weeks. Defensively they are without Jose Maria Gimenez, Kieran Trippier (suspension), Sime Vrsaljko, Yannick Carrasco and Hector Herrera which has seen them become more open despite their switch to a 3-5-2 system this season.

The incredible form of Marcos Llorente further forward started at this stage of the competition last year when he scored against Liverpool at Anfield, but he is likely to be used as a wing-back in this game because of the injuries which softens them up going forward too. Luis Suarez has been clinical this season, but his lack of physicality owing to his age means he’s often in and out of games rather than bossing them like he was once able to.

Chelsea’s lack of cutting edge going forward could prove costly. There is arguably no better time to face Atletico than right now but with Tuchel’s side struggling to create clear-cut chances despite keeping the ball for the large majority of games, whether they can take advantage of Atleti’s problems is up for debate.

Both teams will line up with three at the back but Simeone’s side will be content to let Chelsea have the ball. They will rely extensively on the attacking output of Suarez and Felix, while Angel Correa’s pace could also be used to help on the counter attack.

It should be an intriguing tactical clash between two of the more meticulous managers in the game but considering one has been at their club for much longer and has implemented their ideas more I think this tie will go the Spanish side’s way.

Southampton v Chelsea - Premier League : News Photo

Defensively we’ve seen the level they can reach, especially when motivated, and they will be keen to do what they can to win a maiden Champions League trophy this season. We still don’t know how good Chelsea can be going forward under Tuchel and that just means it’s hard to pick them in this tie.

The fact that Atletico’s home leg isn’t in Spain could work against them, but no fans means it’s less of a blow than it would normally be. Despite that, I expect a tight first leg that Atleti nick with a typical dogged display. The second leg will be more open but I think they should have some injured players back by then and at full strength they’re too much for the Blues and should progress.

PREDICTIONS:
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Chelsea
Chelsea 1-1 Atletico Madrid
(Atletico Madrid to progress 2-1 on aggregate)

Atletico Madrid could win the Champions League with new 352 system

Since Diego Simeone took over at Atletico Madrid way back in December 2011, we’ve seen the same thing pretty much year on year.

A rigid 442 system with a solid defensive base, low block in midfield and individual brilliance in attack.

It was the way when they made it to two Champions League finals in three years, although they lost both, but also the way they won La Liga in 2014. This year though, they sit top of La Liga with a ten point lead and a game in hand over their rivals in the race to win the title.

The level of performance this season has been similar to that of previous years, but a new element has been introduced with Simeone introducing a new 352 system.

An extra defender added into an already solid back-line has seen Atleti concede just ten goals in the league so far this season after 19 games, while the addition of wing-backs and maintaining a front two has seen them score 40 times – just once less than Barcelona despite playing a game less.

A big part of that success has obviously been the form of summer signing Luis Suarez, who has scored 14 league goals this season to lead the Pichichi charts. But it’s also been the willingness of Simeone to change something that had been synonymous with his reign at the club of almost ten years.

He’s found a way to balance the excellent defending that his sides are famous for, while also managing to get more attacking options on the pitch playing well together.

Joao Felix and Suarez’s partnership has been good, while Angel Correa, Marcos Llorente, Yannick Carrasco, Kieran Trippier and even Thomas Lemar have seen their performances rise this season from last.

The tactical versatility they now have, along with the quality in their squad and the huge gap they have in the title race domestically mean they have a huge chance of winning the Champions League this season.

They take on Chelsea in the last 16, who are under new management and still adapting to a new style without firing on all cylinders and will be confident of progression over two legs. But after that they should be confident no matter who they come up against.

The power and quality in attack, the robustness in defence and the overall ability in both directions in midfield means Simeone has not only one of the best squads in Spain, but in Europe too.

After two failed attempts at a Champions League final and two successful Europa League winning campaigns, Simeone will have his best chance at winning the big one this year – and it’s all thanks to his new system.

Luis Suarez: Can History Repeat Itself for Atletico Madrid?

Atletico Madrid have completed the signing of Luis Suarez from Barcelona for around £5million, meaning many fans around the world are getting a feeling of deja vu.

The manner of the deal, with Barcelona deeming the legendary striker as surplus to requirements, has seen many revisit the summer of 2013 where Atleti completed the signing of another Barcelona outcast – David Villa.

Having missed much of the previous season to injury, Villa struggled for starts with Barcelona and was made available for transfer. Atletico Madrid swooped in and struck a deal worth just €5.1 million to make Spain’s all-time top goalscorer wear the famous red and white stripes.

Partnered up front with Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid were able to beat off competition from both Barcelona and fierce rivals Real Madrid to lift their first La Liga title since 1996. Villa contributed with 13 goals in the league but it was experience and savvy to link with teammates and bring the best out of them, most importantly Costa, that was invaluable to the triumph.

With Suarez now a Rojiblanco and both Barcelona and Real Madrid failing to strengthen this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Simeone will believe this is a big chance for his side to close the gap once again and potentially lift the title.

Simeone has let Alvaro Morata join Juventus on a season-long loan deal with the option of a €45 million deal to make it permanent next summer, paving the way for Suarez to come in as the first-choice striker. With his technique and finishing, his lack of mobility these days will likely be balanced out with a partnership being formed with young Portuguese wizard Joao Felix.

Felix is Atletico’s record signing after a €126 million deal from Benfica last summer, but he struggled to adapt to the style of Simeone’s side. He picked up lots of injuries and found the back of the net only nine times. He was in and out of the side, often partnered with a different person and never really got to make any real partnerships on the pitch.

As Suarez arrives, the pressure on Felix lifts away and the rest of the team now have a reliable and consistent goalscorer leading the line who has all the experience of winning titles and scoring in big games.

With a relatively young squad, if Atletico can keep everyone together during the final period of the transfer window then we could very well see history repeat itself.

Atletico Madrid: Stunning Champions League Record Could See Them Lift Title

As Diego Simeone’s side step into the Champions League quarter-final stages against RB Leipzig, a sensational stat follows closely behind.

A win home and away against reigning European champions Liverpool saw the Spanish side get through to this stage of the competition, while Leipzig defeated Tottenham home and away.

But with Atletico’s progression into this stage, with the games now being just one legged encounters all eyes go to how is anyone going to breach Simeone’s defensive structure to beat them.

When you read the stat that no team has knocked a Diego Simeone team out of the Champions League without having Cristiano Ronaldo, you start to look at the rest of Europe as just being in their way en route to a first ever Champions League crown.

FBL-EUR-C1-ATLETICO MADRID-TRAINING : News Photo

Leipzig will be without their top scorer Timo Werner after he signed for Chelsea, while Atleti are at full strength. They will likely continue to use Marcos Llorente in a more attacking role, which has seem him flourish post-lockdown strangely enough. Joao Felix has a point to prove after a mediocre start to his Atleti career, while Morata, Costa and Correa all want to prove they should be first choice going forward too.

With Simeone’s style of play always being to not lose rather than to win games, opposition teams will have to be at their absolute best to ensure they don’t get to keep a clean sheet. Leipzig won’t have the attacking end product to really test Atletico in that department in my opinion so it’ll be the semi-final when they take on PSG that they’ll really be tested.

Against Atalanta Neymar showed the world how much he wants the Champions League title while Kylian Mbappe, even though he wasn’t fully fit, made the big difference from the substitutes bench. The amount of quality in their side will pose a threat to Atletico, but Simeone will be confident that his system will be enough to see them through.

With one-legged games, it’s advantage Atletico.

Inter Milan 09/10 vs Atletico Madrid 13/14

A battle between two of the best defensive teams in recent memory, who won their league and reached the final of Europe’s biggest club competition with two managers who get absolutely everything from their team.

When Jose Mourinho took over at Inter Milan, few could see that within three years they would be reigning Italian and European champions in the same season. His side won the treble in his final year at the club, with Diego Milito leading the line alongside Samuel Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder pulling the strings from midfield.

In Spain just a few years later, Diego Simeone’s side pipped Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to the La Liga title with a masterful display of soaking up pressure and pouncing to win games without the ball. They won 12 of their 28 victories by the odd goal, showing how comfortable and confident they were when defending a lead.

Mourinho adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation, based on solid defensive structure with brilliance from individuals in attack. Lucio was one of the best defenders in the world at this point, while Julio Cesar, Walter Samuel and Javier Zanetti all used their experience to get the absolute most from themselves in this campaign. At right-back, Maicon was explosive and powerful and scored 7 goals in all competitions that season. His overlapping runs allowed Samuel Eto’o to move a bit more in-field to a more natural central position however he was predominantly placed on the right-wing for his work ethic and stamina.

Wesley Sneijder was given a free role in the No.10 position and delivered an outstanding season that put him in contention for the Ballon D’Or. Diego Milito also had the best season of his career during this year, as he scored 28 goals including both in the Champions League final.

At Atletico, Simeone’s team focused completely on not conceding chances and scoring goals on the counter. This setup helped Diego Costa to the greatest season of his career, as he scored 36 goals in all competitions. The defensive structure in place by Gabi, Koke and the back four allowed Raul Garcia to push forward from central midfield and get 15 goals himself too.

In a game against each other though, this could be one of the most intense tactical battles we’ve seen. Both sides would likely set up to ensure they don’t lose which could lead to a cagey affair where very little risks are taken.

Atletico Madrid will undoubtedly drop deep into two blocks of four, while Inter will try to get the ball to Wesley Sneijder as much as possible to unlock those doors. I think the main man for Inter in this game though could be Samuel Eto’o.

The Cameroon forward had an insatiable eye for goal during his time at Barcelona and scored seven goals with four assists in his 12 games against Atletico. With Maicon bombing forward to help Inter’s attack, Eto’o would become an extra body in the attack and be able to create space for himself or Milito to pounce. My pick for this would be an Inter Milan 1-0 win, with prime Jose Mourinho taking the spoils.

Do you agree with the teams picked? Do you agree with the end result? Let me know.