By Toyin Akiode
Atletico Madrid floundered at Santiago Bernabeu in the in the first leg of this tie against Real Madrid. Uncharacteristically, they let in three goals and failed to score any.
To win, they will have to score four goals and hope that their city rivals are blunt all through.
Diego Simeone and his Atletico side were renowned for compact, fast and disciplined games that had served them very in the past. Well, maybe not against Zidane’s Madrid!
Notwithstanding this, they failed to stay true to their strength at the Bernabeu and they paid dearly for that through a majestic display by Christiano Ronaldo who scored all three goals that confined Atletico to the brink of elimination.
Many analysts have already written off any Barcelona like comeback performance at the Estadio Vicente Calderon. It is a tough call in reality and one is tilted to agree.
Zidane rested many of his heavyweights against relegated Granada at the weekend and still won comfortably. The depth in the squad is matched by none other team in Europe.
In line for an unprecedented double celebration, Zidane is conscious of not ever letting off on the pedal until the destination has been reached.
Those who questioned his tactical acumen and suggested that he has just ‘been lucky’ thus far need to take a second look at his statistics. In that regard, he is currently the best in Europe and that can’t be just coincidental.
Atletico Madrid should give it all (and they will) to mount any hope of coming back from the big hole they are enmeshed in. The only challenge is that in attacking Real without to reduce deficit also lie the danger of conceding more form lightning fast counter attacks.
There is also the possibility of Zidane resting Ronaldo, Kroos, Modric and Benzema for the big one against Sevilla in LaLiga on Sunday.
Were that to be the case, a window of opportunity and belief could have been inadvertently opened for Atletico Madrid to mount a serious push to topple Real’s apple cart.
The only snag is that nowadays, Real Madrid ‘second string’ are sometimes even better than the first eleven.
Therein lies the riddle that Simeone must attempt to solve and in so doing, change the colouration of this year Champions League finals that almost all have concluded will be between Juventus and Real Madrid.
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