Yesterday we saw a match between two of Europe’s elite teams. Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid team hosting Pep Guardiola’s German table toppers, Bayern Munich. Now as I’m sure we all prayed for an excited 10 goal thriller, the more experienced football fan would have guessed it would just be a more reserved day at the office.
After the Spanish side took an early lead in the 11th minute a smart man would’ve put his money on Madrid seeing the game out with Simeone’s side only conceding 16 league goals this season. Although there were points in the game where it looked shaky, Madrid held firm against a lackluster Munich side who now need at least two home goals to progress to the final.
Now I’m not going to act as if I know a whole lot about Spanish or German football. I watch Germany’s answer to Match of the Day some weeks on Channel 5 and as for the Spanish Leagues...if I wanted to watch 90 minutes of people falling over I’d go to my local ice skating rink. We think diving’s an issue in England? In Spain it’s an everyday practise...but I digress.
As I was saying I don’t profess to being all knowing about foreign leagues but I must say if these are two of the best teams in Europe then Manchester City might actually have a chance of winning the Champions League. Some truly dreadful defending from Munich was the only thing that stopped this game from being a 0-0.
How on Earth has Robert Lewandowski scored managed to score 27 league goals this season with deliveries like he had today? I’ve never seen a Champions League team play so many crosses to nobody. Whenever he Lewandowski ran to the front post they’d cross to the back, when he ran to the back post they’d drill it to the front...it’s embarrassing.
Madrid didn’t really seem too interested in scoring other than the goal and when Fernando Torres decided to roll back the years and placed a outside of the boot curling effort onto the post. I must say he does look like he’s getting his mojo back. Just in time too as he’s now 32 and can still get a huge payday in China/America…
Madrid’s goal tonight was a combination of two things. I’ve already said it was dreadful defending from Munich but I don’t want to take away the brilliant skill that Saul Niguez showed. Using great ball control and skill to flick it one way, then the other, then the other and then bend it into the far left hand corner.
The thing that I really love about this goal is the finish itself. So many players can do the skill to get themselves into this position but to provide an end product too is simply brilliant. I must say if Lionel Messi had done this, Fifa would have given him the Ballon D’or at half time.
One thing I would like to talk about briefly is Manuel Neuer. A few of my followers on Twitter said that this guy is overrated and only looks good because The Bundesliga is a poor league. For me this couldn’t be further from the truth. When a player talks on most of your back four and still manages to place the ball right in the bottom corner, that is just quality of the highest level.
There is a reason that Neuer is number 1 for Munich and Germany and that is because he is world class. I know among goalkeepers there is a debate over who is better, Neuer or De Gea and although it’s close, I have to give it to Neuer. He’s revolutionized a position which doesn’t get any recognition and does the job with rarely any mistakes.
But anyway back to the game at hand. Simeone has proven himself a class manager at Atletico. Like I said 16 goals conceded in the league! How is that even possible at this stage of the season? There are Villa fans who pray they don’t concede 16 in a month let alone a season. I’m pretty sure Stoke City have conceded that many in their last 4 league games…
There was an impressive statistic on the BBC Sport website. In the second half the ball was in Madrid's third of the pitch for a whopping 44.4% of the half! It only went into Munich’s third for 1.9%! Literally Neuer could’ve sat down and made himself a cup of tea...or something German like a Bratwurst or a Lederhosen.
Despite this stat Simeone’s side still managed to maintain a clean sheet and it was without their regular centre back Diego Godin who was out with a hamstring injury, Replacing him with Man City reject Savic! This man’s ability to set a team out to defend would be a breath of fresh air in the Premier League as there has been rumours he will join Arsenal once Arsene Wenger leaves the club.
As much as I dislike Simeone due to his dickheadishness as a player (its a word look it up), I have to say he would revolutionize Arsenal who have struggled for years now to keep it tight at the back. But of course it’s all speculation and I don’t normally care for idle chit chat and gossip.
Where does this leave both the sides now? Munich need a 2-0 home win to see them through to the final. On one side you’d expect them to get two goals at home but on the other you’d have to assume it’ll be a difficult task against Atletico. Godin will probably be back by then which will make the Bavarians job even more difficult.
Personally what I would like is to see is Munich go through along with Manchester City. Then have Manuel Pellegrini serve up a managerial masterclass to beat the Germans in Milan and win City the Champions League for the first time in their history...only to be sacked 20 minutes later and be replaced by the manager he had just beaten, Pep Guardiola.
I don’t want this to happen but with the way football is going these days it wouldn’t surprise me if they sacked him 2 minutes before kickoff and let Brian Kidd take the reigns for the afternoon...the whole sports gone to shit...but I can’t stop watching it...
~ Anyone who enjoyed this please follow me on Twitter @ThePenaltyKing1 or like me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThePenaltyKing1 ~
Cheers for reading.