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Atletico Madrid With The Advantage In Champions League Semi-Final

atleti-fans-champions-leagueAfter the first round of Champions League semi-finals we seem set for another Madrid derby in the final at the San Siro next month.

On Tuesday, Real Madrid took the advantage in their tie with a 0-0 draw away to Manchester City. On Wednesday, Saul Niguez’s wonder strike proved enough to hand Atletico Madrid a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich at the Vicente Calderon.

This was a great result for Atleti who ran themselves into the ground again for Diego Simeone. Simeone will feel confident that they can grab a goal in Munich next week, while will make Bayern’s chances of advancing any more daunting.

Atleti have the best defense in Europe and Bayern will have to score at least two goals to advance to the Champions League Final. In 52 games in all competitions this season, Atletico have kept 33 clean sheets. In 11 Champions League games they have kept eight.

For Bayern to progress, Pep Guardiola has to figure out his side’s Spanish weakness. Despite 75% possession on Wednesday, Bayern failed to score for a third straight European semifinal on Spanish soil. Following exits against Barcelona and Real Madrid in each of the past two seasons, Guardiola will hope it’s third time lucky on Tuesday in Munich.

The reason that Atleti have the lead is due to Saul’s brilliant solo-effort. The Spain Under-21 international took on the Bayern defense alone from 40 yards out, dribbled the ball past three more opponents before curling it into the bottom corner with a beautiful finish past the diving Manuel Neuer to hand his side the lead after 11 minutes.

Bayern almost levelled two minutes later before Arturo Vidal’s header was sent out for a corner and Xabi Alonso’s resulting set-piece was finally made safe after Vidal’s further effort was collected by Jan Oblak.

The German champions continued to press for an equalizer as the half wore on but Philipp Lahm’s effort was blocked by Jose Gimenez, while, down at the other end, Antoine Griezmann’s close-range effort was toe-tipped to safety after a classic Atleti counter-attack.

The visitors started the second-half the brightest as Guardiola’s half-time team talk looked to have made an impact, Alaba’s long-range strike only denied by Oblak’s crossbar eight minutes in.

Moments later, the Atletico keeper did well to hold out Javi Martinez’s header and hold onto his clean sheet for a little longer as the German side continued to dominate possession.

Robert Lewandowski was unfortunate as his effort across Oblak’s goal rolled just wide before Guardiola brought on Franck Ribery for Coman in an effort to bag an equaliser.

Bayern’s frustrations started to get the better of them and Vidal conceded a free-kick with 20 minutes to go for bringing down Gabi but Douglas sent his weak shot over the bar as the home side searched for goal number two.

Torres then struck the post from close range and – on the rebound – Koke’s drilled shot was comfortably kept out by a diving Neuer.

Bayern battled on for an equalizer but Oblak denied Vidal late on as the home side held on for a the victory.

Great result for Atleti who ran themselves into the ground again for Diego Simeone. Simeone will feel confident that they can grab a goal in Munich next week, while will make Bayern’s chances of advancing any more daunting.

Despite 75% possession, Pep Guardiola has now seen his side fail to score for a third straight European semifinal on Spanish soil. Following exits against Barcelona and Real Madrid in each of the past two seasons, Guardiola will hope it’s third time lucky on Tuesday in Munich.

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