Mark O’Haire’s Champions League Tips – A. Madrid v B. Munich
If Barcelona were supposed to cruise to a comfortable defence of their Champions League crown this season, nobody told Atletico Madrid.
Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich, Wednesday 27 April 19.45, BT Sport Europe
Diego Simeone’s side tore up the script in spectacular fashion as they dumped the Catalans out of the competition at the quarter-final stage for the second time in three seasons.
Unlucky to lose 2-1 in the first-leg at the Camp Nou, Atleti produced a sensational performance to claim a deserved 2-0 triumph in the return leg at the Vicente Calderon to take their place in the final four of the Champions League.
The last time that Atletico Madrid eliminated Barcelona from the Champions League, they went on to reach the final – losing in extra-time to city rivals Real Madrid – and, having avoided Zinedine Zidane’s men in the draw for the semi-finals, there remains a possibility that history could repeat itself – although, Simeone and his side will be determined that this year, they go one better.
However, if Atleti are to set up another final showdown with Real – or, of course, Manchester City – they will need to first dispose of German giants Bayern Munich in what promises to be a tie of contrasting styles.
Pep Guardiola’s charges have a reputation of a team that scores goals for fun – and it is richly deserved.
The Bavarians have scored 28 goals in 10 Champions League matches this season, double the tally racked up by Simeone’s side.
Bayern have also hit two or more goals in each of their last five fixtures in all competitions.
However, Bayern have a remarkably poor record on their travels in the latter stages of this competition, for the German champions have gone seven matches without a win on the road in the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Real Madrid sent Bayern spinning out of the competition in 2014, while Barcelona eliminated Guardiola’s men last term and the Bundesliga side will be desperate to avoid a hat-trick of knockout blows at the hands of Spanish sides in this competition when they line up against Simeone’s men.
Atleti may lack the firepower of Barcelona and Real Madrid, but their remarkable defensive discipline has been the cornerstone of their success in recent years.
The men from Madrid have conceded just seven goals in 17 matches on home turf in La Liga this season and unsurprisingly, with just 16 goals against in 35 league matches, Simeone’s outfit boast by far the most impressive defensive record of any side in Spain.
Bayern, too, have been rock solid at the back on the domestic scene, but they have struggled to bring that form to the European stage, whereas Wednesday’s hosts have leaked just three goals in their last 15 matches in the Champions League.
Guardiola will swap Munich for Manchester this summer and the former Barcelona boss would love to bring European success to Bayern as the perfect parting gift.
However, like many before them, the men from Munich may find themselves frustrated by the solid home defence when they visit the Vicente Calderon and, with the visitors vulnerable on the road in this competition, the hosts are certainly the value play.
Therefore, punters are advised to take a chance on the juicy 2/1 quote for Atletico Madrid to seize a first-leg lead by beating Bayern Munich in Wednesday’s Champions League crunch clash.
Atletico Madrid to win @ 2/1
*Prices correct at time of publication.