The first leg of UEFA Champions semi-final stage was wrapped up on the Wednesday night with the most tantalizing battle at this stage embraced a briefly exciting tactical flirtation, desirable technical advocacy and well-defined coaching pedigree after Atletico cruised past Bayern Munich with 1-0 win at Vicente Calderon and truly set the climax of maximum boiling point to be fired in the second leg next week at Alianz Arena to decide one side of this year finalist. Diego Simone once again masterminded his exceptional tactical philosophy in the most sensational game-winning attitude against the team, whom arguably are redeveloped by an extraordinary mentor, who has highly emphasized the most renovated modern football methods with its long-lasting heritage of symbolizing definition of success and glorifying the most globalized chapter of beautiful game, Pep Guardiola. the Spaniard’s glorious coaching philosophy remains nearly impossible to be replicated in any time in the future and this fact significantly specialized this match as Guardiola simply stood against one of his ultimately rival and brilliant competitors in terms of football revolution in the last few years, dating back to Guardiola’s days as Barca coach, so this duel truly was the one to watch. Atletico players produced a superbly efficient form of transition football with their famously vital pressing approach and outstanding defensive mechanism in highly formidable balance when switching to attack from defence, distracting Bayern’s emphatic possession rhythm of generating space and fluid high tempo attack, the strategy seemed to be the Spanish side’s main obligation e at first with their equally ambition to coordinate a crafty and precise attacking trademark in essential way to control spaces in deep positions between the line and breaking with vital flair and consistent pace up front as they narrowly finished with mere possession at their disposal against their opponent.
Saul Niguez produced a glimpse of superb individual skill and pure creativity with his solo effort midway through the first half and it was the never-returned story for the remaining of this match from visitors. Bayern might are considered the most flexible side in the world; practically for their in-depth structural productivity with its constant stability of team selection in amplifying diverse tactical concepts and integrating the most efficient and creative players to perform those system with brilliant results, the fact defines the main reason of Bayern’s successful record in the recent years. the ability of the box-to-box players such as Xabi Alonso and Xavi Martinez to monitor midfield build-ups in “central holding partnership” or as single deep-lying passer in more direct style, they seem so comfortable to adapt and manage different pace of games, accordingly the impact of Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantra and Thomas Muller has established a delightful shape of developing confident attacking style from balanced and speedy transitions when pressing with four men across the midfield and going forward with flying wingers joining a central playmaker in “diamond three attackers” or in the most common ways they played based on sustaining possession philosophy in so called “Guardiola favorite” a one touch build-up movement; tracking off the ball runs, initiating play from deep to coordinate series of short range of passing circulation with intriguing skills and vastly capable of dictating much needed flair and dynamics to finish in any competition, but they truly realized the experience against the Spanish side as instead extremely dramatic challenge in all round of spectrum. the combative partnership of Arturo Vidal and Thiago Alcantra in the diamond shape of Bayern’s versatile and energetic maestro of central attackers with constant change of pace when opening from deep positions to widen their passing movements signaled the possible turning point of Bayern, but with Koke effortlessly coordinating the open spaces in switching point of attack in front of Atletico’s resilient and sharpe pressing defense, especially with his vital change of passing and close touch to link up their wide men, frustrating Alonso and Alcantra as they barely managed to offer open runs in advance position over the midfield when faced Koke’s crucial pressing-breakaway approach, it further freed up creative attacking forces like Grizemann, Saul Nizuez to ignite flashes of neat play and creating fluid combinations with their skills in constant rhythm of drifting to interplay from wide, forming “three strikers” along with Fernando Torres and firing high up the flanks or interchanging as auxiliary play-maker to supply Fernando Torres with some open runs.
Their consistently sharp line of deep pressing and accordingly having Koke as lynchpin to open wide runs to start attack, Gabi and Fernandez would highly rotating in central positions between Bayern’s little gap to contribute breakaway play with desire and precision to hold on the ball, gaining enough possession for Griezmann and Niguez to orchestrate dazzling runs in the final third, all they virtually requested to spark incredible moments, their promising attitude emerged as a career-defining moments for arguably one of the greatest talent of Spain’s new generation and Europe’s brilliant future stars, Saul Niguez. in the 30th minutes a long ball was challenged with players of both sides before Koke redirecting a header into path of Niguez, he calmly laid the ball down to his feet when delicately dancing past and untracked his marker Alcantra to burst forward then brilliantly dribbling inside both Bernard and Alonso deep into Bayern edge while cutting into his left with a perfect curling shot into the lower far post in such amazement of fans and their bench. his dazzling skill and agility introduced a pure remark of an extremely gifted player to emerge in Europe. in the second half Bayern fiercely camped in Atletico’s half with more high pace to play better passess and purposeful pressure to control the flanks, but still they never equalized.
First David Alaba smashed his wonderful long-range effort that deflected off the upper post and waved off. ten minutes later a neat through deep pass played to Vidal as combined a neat back heel touch to Lewandowski’s run, the striker eased off the pressure from his marker and sending his angle shot inch wide of the post. German side intensified the pressure to exploit spaces with quick combination to increas physical approach on the set pieces and two minutes later Xavi Martinez rose high to pounce a powerful header from Costa’s corner but it Jan Oblak made a clean save on the line. in the 73th minutes Vidal had an attempted long-range shot when sending his 25th yard effort towards the far post but Oblak produced a brilliant diving save to punch it away and spreading the fear of defeat to Bayern players and Pepe even more. The host’s superb form of transition and outstanding focal point of attack, an incredible strategy that executed perfectly when demolishing Barcelona’s faith entirely at the most heated moments of visitor’s desperate attacking research in the second leg of quarter-final, almost could have replicated the same damage to vanish Bayern Munich hopes once again in the 75th min. Frank Ribery struggled to keep the ball at his feet under pressure outside of the Atletico’s box and was simply robbed off by Antoin Griezmann as french man sprinted forward delightfully from his own half, cruising past Costa into central position before precisely switching right to link with Torres run at his wide and Spanish man easily cutting inside Alaba but was unlucky to see his shot hit the post and Matias Kranevitter’s curlling effort on the rebound then saved by Neuer. Diego Simoen’s men delightfully secured their crucial first leg win against the incredible Bayern Munich and left plenty of breath-taking moments to spark in Alianz Arena ahead of return leg on the Tuesday night.
Atlectico Madrid verdict: they produced another incredible, efficient and resilient performance to overcame arguably tournament’s other dimension of title favorite outside of Barcelona, and the team who are considered as the most prolific and completed side at the moment, Bayern Munich. Atlectico’s backline appeared to be extremely confident to press and shout down spaces across the box once again with further stronger commitment to challenge and distract Bayern’s attacking forces all the way through. their midfield men like Koke and Gabi made a vital partnership in tracking blind runs required to the change of play in front of their defense by consistent off the ball communication and crucial mobility to win spaces and contribute passing across the midfield behind Bayern’s exposed gap. the goal eventually supported by such idea, although Saul’s amazing individual skill has a sole evidence on its own, but the collective effort of midfield players was surely noticeable. Grizzmann and Saul engineered Spanish’s pivotal attacking flair and quality with their movements and kills the final balls every often when having sudden possession. their off the ball runs in deeper hole of midfield provided support to their timely pressing and gaining pace to go forward. Diego Simeone proved his tactic to be very intelligent and effective against the world’s most entertaining side so far. his tactical commitment suggests a highly reliable patterns to perform and now has established its most efficiency and clinical impact to win European championship.
Bayern verdict: they truly faced a tough and frustrating challenge against Atletico’s resilient defense along with their equally impressive attacking talents, which had been suspiciously blown Bayern’s dimension of tactical vibrancy for its problematic implement of possession-based approach, forcibly being overplayed to define attacking momentum as it looked flimsy and struggling to ignite defense-splitting sparks against host’s solid and organize backline. Pep briefly acknowledged the extreme pressure of re-assessing his offensive catalyst and its end-product sources, require to be applied to deliver against one of the best defensive sides in the world in the second leg at home in such sensational manner. with incredible weapons at his disposal the Spanish man theoretically is the best coach in Europe to switch patterns within his idea formation, be it at 4-3-3 in all-around interactive attacking style or focusing on 4-2-3-1 and risking it to play with two zonal holding roles between the line, he willingly adapt the most consistent and flexible elements to the heart Bavarians in different circumstances, the idea in contrary, would increase the risk of re-shaping the intent of his ideal formation and even it could sometimes gambles his mind to compromise the most vital game-winning strategies for the sack of maintaining his entertaining philosophies. the evidence has hurt them in the two previous semi-finals against both Spanish prestigious sides, Real Madrid and Barcelona and it remains slightly vulnerable to be blown up against newly Spanish giant, Atletico as well. on the positive note, those experiences would be possibly forgiven as Pep put tremendous effort to re-build Bayern identity during a critical transitional era, but his methods have entirely established within the squad and his players desirably adapted to play the best football this season, a balanced side with an incredible deft at its sight, so flexible in transition from defense to attack as it marshaling by likes of Arturo Vidal, Alcantra and Alonso to control the game, while storming up front with plenty of gifted players such as Lewandowski, Douglas Costa and Muller along with their world class veterans in Ribery and Robben to fully spark flashes of creativity in leading them to win trophies. the presence of Dutch star in the second leg is still in a doubt due to injury and Bayern sensationally need his pace and dazzling runs to link up crafty movements on the flanks, while Robben ignites ultimately superior momentum in terms of boasting agility, flair and explosiveness to spark press-breaking transitions from deep to inspire a rhythmic change of pace and coordinating interchanging passes through series of continues and spontaneous sequences to hammer any compact back lines and preventing them from re-pressing effort which considers absolutely instrumental to Bayern’s success against toughest defensive teams. well it will be a tantalizing battle on the Tuesday night and Pep has some mountains to climb if his players are to overcome the tie and navigating their way to the glory. Atletico meanwhile has established a new European legacy and winning this tournament will be the most historic and glorious event for this great Madrid side.