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Two models, two author teams and an obsession

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The brilliant and rich City of Guardiola, a colossal challenge for the sacrificed and resistant Atlético de Simeone in the quarterfinals of the Champions

Ignacio Only

Two author teams, two idiosyncrasies, two styles and the common goal of ever raising an orejona, that great title that is missing in the showcases of ‘citizens’ and colchoneros, rivals today in the Champions quarters. In modern football there may not be two coaches who make their opposing models as visible as Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone, the two highest-paid strategists in the world, two icons on which Manchester City and Atlético de Madrid are based. Diametrically opposed in the formula to reach the result, their two teams measure their strength this at the Etihad Stadium, where the mattresses will be supported by some 3,000 fans.

For City, forged on the basis of petrodollars from the United Arab Emirates, and Atlético, installed among the greats since Cholo landed at the Calderón more than ten years ago, the European Cup is an obsession. Those from Manchester were on the verge last year, but fell in the final against Chelsea. The rojiblancos came close to it three times: in the Heysel final in 1974, with that goal by Schwarzenbeck that offset Luis Aragonés’s goal and forced a playoff match against an unstoppable Bayern, and the two losses against Real Madrid in extra time 2014 and on penalties in 2016. To reach that last final, held in Milan, Atlético already had to star in the miracle of getting Pep Guardiola’s Bayern out of the way in the semifinals, the result of 1-0 and in the first leg and a moving resistance (2-1) in the Bavarian capital.

In 2009, Simeone visited Guardiola’s Barcelona training session. “Talk later. ‘How do you do the back start, high or medium pressure, how is this, how do you attack small spaces or whatever?’ And he told me (Simeone) something that was very good and I learned a lot. I think that over time it reflects very well the personality of Cholo. I told him we’re doing this and he told me ‘I don’t feel this, I don’t like this’ », Pep recalls in a passage from the documentary ‘Simeone, living match by match’. That said, Guardiola said yesterday that he does not have the perception that Atlético is such a defensive team but rather a “tactically very rich” rival, capable of adapting to various circumstances and about which he is thinking how to “touch their noses” .

overcome barriers

This Atlético is not such a dog team as the one that overcame barriers and aspired to everything. This course has been much more vulnerable less forceful in the areas, but it is no less true that he arrives at the Etihad at his best moment of the season. Since bottoming out with the defeat against Levante at the Wanda, they have chained six victories in the League and have surpassed Manchester United, come down but full of stars and with more pedigree than City, a nouveau riche. Capable of assaulting the temple of Old Trafford just three weeks ago, as it did years before at Stamford Bridge and Anfield, Atlético repeats a colossal challenge.

The Spanish champion appears without two of his starters in this reaction of the last month and a half, more about results than about the game. Neither central Giménez nor midfielder Herrera have traveled to England due to injuries. The other absentee is the Belgian Yannick Carrasco, who is serving his third and last game of suspension for his expulsion in the group stage against Porto.

El Cholo trusts the block, in its ability to survive, in the power of the minds of his disciples who always have to believe and, above all, in Joao Félix’s state of grace. Since he is the undisputed starter and plays as a striker, he has scored six goals in the last six games. As a curious fact, Savic returns to the stage where he spent a campaign when he was only 20 years old, before growing up at Fiorentina. “Then he was not prepared,” confesses the Montenegrin center-back.

For City, it is the first hard stage towards their Everest. In twelve days, stay alive will be played in three competitions. After receiving Atlético, half a Premier will be played against Liverpool next Sunday on this same stage, since City only leads Jürgen Klopp’s men by one point. Then, the second leg against the rojiblancos, on the 13th at the Metropolitano, and three days later the FA Cup semi-final, also against Liverpool. City manages time and space like nobody else, who without a reference striker continues to dream of Haaland but has an average of more than two goals per game in the Premier and has scored 23 goals in eight Champions League games. Rúben Dias will not be injured.

Likely lineups

  • Manchester City:
    Ederson, Walker, Laporte, Stones or Aké, Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gündogan, Sterling, Foden, Grealish.

  • Atletico Madrid:
    Oblak, Llorente, Savic, Felipe, Reinildo, Lodi, De Paul, Koke, Kondogbia, Griezmann and Joao Félix.

  • Referee:
    Istvan Kovacs (Romania).

  • Hour:
    21:00 h. Etihad Stadium.

  • TV:
    Movistar Champions League.

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