Much at stake in Atletico-Bayern Champions League semi-final (Preview)

Madrid, April 26 (IANS) Atletico Madrid entertain Bayern Munich in a Champions League first leg semifinal clash at the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday in what promises to be a fascinating contest between two sides with sharply contrasting styles of play.

Atletico will be motivated to overcome their bitter final memories of their defeat to Real Madrid two years ago, reports Xinhua.

For Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola winning the Champions League would justify his three years at the club which are coming to an end this season with his move to England’s Manchester City.

Atletico fans also want revenge over words from Bayern director, Karl Heinz Rummenigge, who was less than complimentary over Atletico’s style of play after they had struggled past Dutch side PSV Eindhoven on penalties earlier in the tournament.

A win for the Spanish club would also be the perfect way to help it celebrate the 113th anniversary of its foundation, which was on April 26, 1903.

Atletico midfielder Saul summed up his club’s philosophy in an interview with Spanish sporting paper, Diario AS on Tuesday saying “every ball is a war and we have to win”.

Coach Diego Simeone is the epitome of winning at all costs, but there is no denying his influence over the side’s fighting spirit.

Diego Godin will be missing but youngster Lucas has provided solid cover in central defence and Stefan Savic was brought in to do such a job.

Meanwhile Antoine Griezmann is in excellent form in attack, while Fernando Torres is playing his best football for years.

Bayern will control most of the ball at the Calderon, but that won’t worry the Atletico fans who will look for their players to snap into tackles and launch their typically lethal counter-attacks.

Another fact that will comfort Atletico is that Bayern have not won an away match in the European competition’s knockout stages since February 19, 2014.

Bayern will be hoping to overturn that unflattering statistic.

–IANS

sam/dg

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