More of the same from Simeone?
It wasn’t pretty from Diego Simeone’s Atletico at the Etihad last week, but it almost worked a treat as they lost just 1-0 in the end so are still well in the tie.
Simeone got plenty of criticism for his almost 5-5 formation but playing away from home against one of the best and richest teams in the world your priority number one is to not get blown away and the tie be all over after the first leg.
Atleti now have the home leg at what will be a feverish Wanda Metropolitano when at some point the hosts will have to throw the kitchen sink at Pep Guardiola’s side.
They obviously had one eye on this game at the weekend when they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at struggling Mallorca, making it back-to-back defeats after six straight wins – and successive scoreless efforts for the first time since September.
Throw in their six-game winless run in home Champions League games and Atletico are up against it.
Good start to decisive week for City
Man City’s frantic 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday put the Premier League firmly in their hands with seven games left to play and their run-up about as easy as you could want for Guardiola’s men.
The next two games could see them make the Champions League semi-final and the FA Cup final, meaning the treble is well and truly on. They’re 15/2 to win all three this season.
“The way we played today was very good, we should have scored more.”
Kevin De Bruyne reacts to Manchester City’s draw with Liverpool pic.twitter.com/wC6gBTrzXB
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) April 10, 2022
Guardiola will need a few sets of fresh legs after that sapping 90 minutes against Liverpool, but in terms of tactics and formation it should just be same again as they’ll dominate the ball again.
City have lost away at RB Leipzig and PSG this season, but they’ve won their last four Champions League knockout games away from home and are unbeaten in their last 12 away games in all competitions since losing at Leipzig.
And a draw will do them just fine here.
City big favourites again
The bookies think it’s a dead cert that City go through as they’re just 1.071/14 to qualify and 1.84/5 to win the game, with Atletico 4.67/2 to win in 90 minutes and 8.07/1 to qualify.
Remember that away goals no longer come into play so any one-goal victory for Atletico will send the game into extra time – where it’s 1110/1 for either team to win it in 120 minutes.
Any team to win it via the dreaded penalty shootout is 109/1 and definitely in play, but this Atletico seem a lot more vulnerable than they have been in previous years and City are rightly huge favourites.
Guardiola is hardly one to play for a draw but he’ll be happy enough playing his usual possession game and seeing just how quickly Atletico start to get desperate.
An early goal changes the game for both sides and Atletico have to come out and play in front of their home fans, but the bookies have no idea if there’ll be goals or not with hardly any difference in the odds for under/over 2.5 goals and both teams to score.
You always feel City will score in every game and Atletico have so many attacking options as well that I’m happier to go for the slight outsiders in both with over 2.5 goals at 2.111/10 and both teams to score at 2.01/1.
De Bruyne the stand-out for City
Kevin De Bruyne was Man of the Match against both Liverpool and Atletico as he ran both games as well as scoring in both – making it five out of the last six games where he’s found the net.
Atletico need to plan for him but they may not be able to stop him scoring yet again at 4.03/1 – and he’s an automatic selection for this game while the other attacking places are all up for grabs.
All Man City needed was Phil Foden on the pitch
80 seconds after coming on he unlocks the Atletico defence to set up Kevin De Bruyne!
Big goal in this tie…#UCL pic.twitter.com/rRIXIah2EI
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 5, 2022
Joao Felix came off the bench at the weekend but will start here and he’s Atletico’s main danger at 4.3310/3 anytime scorer – and like De Bruyne he loves getting an early goal.
We’d love to see Simeone let them off the leash from the start and they’ve proven time and again they can catch teams cold – such as Man Utd in the last round in Madrid.
De Bruyne has scored inside the first five minutes three times in the last six games, while Felix has scored inside the first 11 minutes in three of Atletico’s last four home games.
Both teams to score in the first half here is 5.04/1 and although it goes against the grain for Atletico based on their first leg display, this will hopefully be vastly different.
And as games against Man Utd and Liverpool have shown they can get drawn into actual attacking games of football with an early goal – so even two first half goals at 3.02/1 could be worth backing.
Ultimately you have to be in City’s corner for this one but if Atletico and all their tricks, with the backing of their home fans, will make it a serious test.