Madrid/London, Apr 12 (EFE).- Atletico Madrid will have to reinvent themselves to have a chance of overturning their 1-0 deficit against Manchester City to reach their first Champions League semi-final since 2017.
In the quarter-final first leg last week, the Spanish club stuck to their trademark defensive approach, so much so that they did not register a single attempt at goal.
While they were underwhelming in attack, los Colchoneros were able to stymie City’s formidable forwards, conceding just one goal that gives the Citizens an edge but keeps Atletico alive in the tie.
If Atletico hope to progress, they will need to quickly forget about their dire performance on Saturday when they slipped to a limp 1-0 defeat at relegation-threatened Mallorca.
“It is clear that we are facing a team that plays very well,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said at a press conference ahead of the showdown at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday night.
They play “with a very good, dynamic, positional game rhythm, with very fast transitions, with small spaces that are used in the best way, but we are excited,” Simeone said.
“It is clear that excitement is not enough, but with acts to take the game where we believe we can do damage. And play. Words are not of much use, all that matters is what happens after nine o’clock,” he said.
They already pulled a similar comeback off against Barcelona in 2016, when they rallied from a 2-1 first-leg away defeat to win 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon, their erstwhile home.
But this team is not the Atletico of years gone by. On top of that, they will have to play the match with part of the Wanda Metropolitano closed to supporters as a Uefa punishment after several traveling Atletico fans were filmed giving fascist salutes during the first leg.
Facing them will be a Manchester City team that is coming off a 2-2 draw against Liverpool at the weekend, a match that was widely praised for its openness and intensity, qualities that are unlikely to be on display in abundance on Wednesday.
“There will be moments we will have to be ready to defend. They are so intense. They have incredible support for the team and manager,” City’s coach Pep Guardiola said.
“We need to create chances. We know Atletico Madrid in the knockout stage is so, so difficult. We will try,” he said. EFE