Atlético Madrid – Bayer Leverkusen: Atlético Throw Away A Lifeline And Crash Out Of The Champions League (2-2)
It was the penultimate matchday of the Champions League’s group stage, and we had a crunch fixture in Group B which saw Atlético Madrid take on Bayer Leverkusen, with both sides needing a win to stay alive in the competition. Ultimately, neither team got their way, but the action that led to that result was incredibly entertaining.
Tactical analysis and match report by Neel Shelat.
Atlético Madrid might have been happy with the group stage draw that pitted them against just one side from Europe’s top five leagues, although they were facing two domestic champions as well. Still, most expected them to make it out of the group, but their performances had been far from convincing. They just had four points from as many games going into this fixture, thanks to a last-minute win over Porto on the opening matchday and a draw with Club Brugge previously.
Bayer Leverkusen had beaten Atlético by a two-goal margin in the reverse fixture in what proved to be Gerardo Seoane’s last Champions League victory as the club’s head coach, so a lot had changed since then. A certain Xabi Alonso had come in and replaced him, and while the side was starting to look better, results were still a slight concern as Leverkusen had won just one of their last four matches.
Atlético lined up in the 4-4-2 shape that they have been using regularly of late, so Jan Oblak had Nahuel Molina, José María Giménez, Mario Hermoso and Reinildo Mandava in the back line ahead of him. Axel Witsel partnered Geoffrey Kondogbia in central midfield, Ángel Correa and Yannick Carrasco were out wide, and . . .