Apr 13, 2017
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Three things learnt from Atletico Madrid’s first-leg victory over Leicester City

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Atletico Madrid will take a narrow 1-0 lead to England as they triumphed over Leicester City in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

This tie was never going to be a classic, but this was an interesting tactical battle.

Although they lost and failed to score an away goal, the Foxes remain in this tie and they will be hoping to deliver a similar performance to the one they gave against Sevilla in the last round.

Here are three things that we learnt on Wednesday night..

Leicester were outclassed and outbattled by Atletico

It is a great achievement for Leicester to be in the last eight of the Champions League, considering they were in the Championship this time three years ago.

They would be outsiders against any team at this stage of the competition, but Atletico Madrid were arguably the worst team that they could have drawn.

Diego Simeone’s side are expertly organised, hard-working and possess a lot of quality in attack. They have grown into a well-oiled machine under the Argentine and have reached two Champions League finals in the last three years.

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The main reason they were a bad draw for Leicester is that everything the Foxes do well, Atletico do better. That was evident during the first leg.

The Spaniards won 16 of the 26 aerial duels and completed more tackles during the match, in addition to dominating possession. Atleti won 18 tackles to Leicester’s 16 and that laid the foundations for their victory.

In possession, the La Liga side had more class than their English opposition and they created clearer-cut opportunities. They may have gotten lucky for the penalty in some people’s eyes, but they were the better team and deserved their victory.

Simeone has become a master at winning two-legged Champions League ties and they prevented the Foxes from scoring an away goal. It is difficult to see them getting knocked out from this position.

Craig Shakespeare’s game-plan left Vardy too isolated

Leicester came to the Vicente Calderon with a game-plan to keep them in the tie heading back to England and they managed to do that.

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A 1-0 deficit isn’t the end of the world and they have a fighting chance of turning it around at the KP Stadium if they perform at their full potential. However, they have left themselves with little margin for error as they didn’t manage to score an away goal.

Given Atletico are a team that don’t often score lots of goals, the Foxes could have been more ambitious in possession of the football.

During the first half especially, Jamie Vardy was too isolated up front and Leicester created very little, despite having some good chances to break. Although it improved in the second half, they remained too cautious at times and missed out on a good opportunity to score an away goal.

Atleti are the best defensive team in Europe, but Leicester may have shown them too much respect on Wednesday night. Shakespeare relied too much on Vardy’s pace on the counter and whenever he got on the ball, he didn’t have enough support to make something of it.

Antoine Griezmann stepped up once again for Atletico

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Atleti have a wonderfully balanced team with good players in every position, but Antoine Griezmann is the undoubted star. If the La Liga side win, the Frenchman is normally on the scoresheet and he was the match-winner on Wednesday.

He scored from the spot and showed great composure to find the back of the net at a crucial time in the game. In addition, to his winning goal, the 26-year-old completed four key passes, which was more than any other player on the pitch.

The Frenchman has become a complete player under Simeone and he leads the battle from the front. During the match, he completed three tackles and one interception, showing his ability to press high up the pitch.

Griezmann will be hoping to push his claim as one of the best players in the world by stepping up during the final stages of the Champions League. He has given his team a first-leg lead and he could star again in England.

Featured image: All rights reserved by Atletico Madrid

Jake Jackman

Jake is a student based in the South East. He is a Newcastle fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

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