Atletico Madrid reached their second Champions League final in three years after defeating Bayern Munich on away goals after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate. Losing 2-1 in the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night Diego Simeone’s men played their part in an animated clash in Germany which saw two missed penalties, one controversial penalty call and much more drama. Here are five things we learned:
5. Bayern wanted to up the tempo
Last week in Madrid Bayern did not have the same quick, incisive attacking to their game. That all changed in Munich as Pep Guardiola’s side attacked in waves and had 12 shots in the opening 27 minutes. Even the balls boys had to be at their fastest as the home side looked to keep Atletico under pressure with their speed and intensity. The return of Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller helped push Munich up the pitch quicker and at times the Atletico defending resembled Bambi on ice as they could not get anywhere near their opponents. Every chance Atletico had to slow the game down they tried: delaying the restart of the game at set pieces, arguing with officials and Bayern players, whatever they could do to try and catch their breath.
4. Atletico were better when they had to attack
Simeone is possibly the best manager in the world over two legs. Steal a goal then defend diligently and attack on the break trying to add to the lead. It’s a recipe that works most of the time but they were actually far more effective when they had to go forward and score. In the second half they committed more players forward and although Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann had less support than Kanye West’s plea to Mark Zuckerberg the one slick attack they had resulted in a goal – a counter attack too. After that they threatened much more and looked much more composed in possession and had a number of their own chances they wasted, Torres having a late penalty saved which would have killed off any Munich hope.
3. Missed chances cost Bayern
Possibly the biggest thing that cost Bayern a spot in the final was Bayern themselves. While their build up play was first rate their finishing certainly was not. Muller missed the biggest chance in the first half when he saw his penalty saved by Jan Oblak just moments after Xabi Alonso had put Munich back into the tie with a deflected free-kick. Robert Lewendowski spurned two big chances in the first half and while the visitors had a penalty miss of their own which could have swung the pendulum late on in the game it was Bayern who created the lion share of the chances – especially in the first half. The home side had Madrid on the ropes looking punch drunk after fending off relentless attacks. However a combination of poor finishing and Oblak doing his best impression of an octopus between the sticks saw Atletico survive.
2. Guardiola could be seen as a failure at Bayern
Regardless of how many records Guardiola’s Bayern have set and broken during his reign the big hole in his CV will be failing to win the Champions League with them. Not only did he fail to win the competition with them but he failed to even navigate them to a final. While domestic trophies are all well and good Guardiola was brought in to help usher in a new era of Continental dominance for Munich and it simply has not happened. Failure may be too strong of a word to use but that is how many die hard Bayern fans may perceive his tenure at the club.
1. Atletico want Real Madrid
Make no mistake, Atletico want Real in the final. While Simeone and his players will claim to not care they will want to avenge their heartbreaking 4-1 AET defeat of 2014. Atletico were literal seconds away from winning their first Champions League title before Sergio Ramos scored to take game into extra time and by the end it seemed a one sided result. Simeone and his squad are passionate men and will want to right the wrongs of 2014 as well as last year being dumped out of the competition at the quarter-finals stage by the same opponent. Winning the trophy against one of their fiercest rivals and avenging previous defeats in the process is the kind of motive that drives Simeone.