Champions League: Atletico have to change for the return leg against Manchester City


Atletico Madrid look to overturn a 1-0 defeat from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final where they will play Manchester City in the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday night.

Any chance Atletico have of getting back into the tie relies on them sooner or later changing the tactics they used in Manchester last week when Diego Simeone’s side got 11 men behind the ball and failed to produce a single shot against the English side’s goal.

“I think the Atletico game will be a little bit tight at the beginning but it has to change if the score stays the same. I don’t expect it to be a similar game to the first leg,” commented Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne after his side’s Premier League game against Liverpool on Sunday.

The fact the Liverpool game was on Sunday gives the Premier League champions 24 hours less time to prepare than their rivals while the TV schedule has done them a few favours. However, coach Pep Guardiola will probably make some changes to his starting 11, with Gabriel Jesus out through suspension.

Either Riyad Mahrez or Jack Grealish, who both started on the bench on Sunday, will come into the side, while Ilkay Gundogan also probably starts.

Key defender Ruben Dias looks likely to miss out again through injury, leaving John Stones and Aymeric Laporte the job of keeping things tight at the back for City, who know that the longer they can maintain their lead, the more Atletico will have to open up.

The Spanish side received a setback on Monday when UEFA announced that a section of the Wanda holding 5,000 fans has to be closed as a punishment for “discriminatory behaviour” from a section of the 2,600 Atletico fans who visited Manchester last week. Although UEFA have not been specific in their reasons, this is thought to refer to some chants and a group of Atletico fans who made ‘Nazi’ salutes during their 1-0 defeat.

Simeone rested in-form striker Joao Felix in his side’s 1-0 defeat in Mallorca and the Portuguese striker is likely to start, as is Angel Correa, since Jose Gimenez and Hector Herrera are both likely to miss out through injury.

Atletico will probably look for an early goal in order to return to their preferred ‘sit and wait’ policy, but if that goal doesn’t come, City will feel confident in finding the gaps to allow them to exploit their rapid passing game.



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