LNTUP

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Leicester City Match Report

Photo: Getty Images
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Diego Simeone had chalked out a plan but I think the player’s couldn’t execute it properly. It was as simple as that but Atlético Madrid still managed to outclass Leicester City in each and every department of the game to win the first leg by 1-0, thanks to a 28th min Griezmann penalty.

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Atlético had previously never lost at home to an English side ( W5, D5 ) and the mentality and playing style displayed by the players of Leicester City meant that this record wasn’t in danger.

Atlético Madrid failed to turn their dominance into a more convincing win. Leicester City won’t be that disappointed with the scoreline as they still have a chance to beat Atlético in the second leg.

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Atletico have not conceded a goal in a home knockout tie in Europe since March 2014 and Leicester failed to register a shot on target as they rarely looked like breaking that run.

Atlético attacked right from the word go, with their first real chance coming in the 4th minute of the game when Koke powered a rising 25-yard strike against the left-hand post as Schmeichel grasped at thin air, while Yannick Carrasco failed to punish Robert Huth for making a mess of a headed clearance in the ninth minute and slashed his back-post volley wide, to be precise, very wide.

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The sight of Jamie Vardy tearing after Shinji Okazaki’s punt and firing across the face of goal demonstrated Leicester’s most likely route to an upset.

After 18 minutes, Leicester had registered a mere 30 touches with a pass accuracy of 56%. Leicester City’s plan was clear – let Atlético Madrid attack – defend in number – clear the ball and send the ball into the half of the opposition – pray to God that Jamie Vardy somehow scores a goal.

Leicester City were defending in numbers but they were defending so poorly that the Atlético players were making a fun of them by playing quick one to one passes and showcasing their skills in Leicester City’s penalty box, but somehow Leicester City managed to clear the ball everytime, courtesy of the individual glory hunting mentality of some Atlético Madrid players. Their defence looked more organised in the second half.

The set-up to Atlético’s opening goal was quite dramatic. Griezmann tore towards goal from the left with rapid menace and a panicked Albrighton brought him down, with referee Jonas Eriksson pointing to the spot, though replays confirmed the contact came outside the area.

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Schmeichel saved a penalty in each leg against Sevilla but Griezmann, who began a sequence of three consecutive misses amid Champions League final heartache against Real Madrid last term, coolly stroked his kick into the left corner.

Atleti were unable to add to their lead before the break, when Leicester City decided to bring in Andy King in place of Okazaki to bolster Leicester’s over-run midfield.

The Wales international’s introduction did little to alter the pattern of the play, although Huth – later booked for a foul on Griezmann, which rules him out of the second leg – had a shot blocked when Atletico failed to clear Christian Fuchs’ long throw.

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Atlético had many chances to double the lead – the most clear cut chance coming after the hour mark when Fernando Torres was fed by Koke on the edge of the box. Torres received Koke’s probing pass and scooted around Huth, only to lose his footing in comic fashion.

Vardy, who had worked hard as the lone striker, was replaced by Islam Slimani in the 77th minute. But neither Vardy nor the rest of the Leicester City’s team really looked to threaten Atlético’s defence. Riyad Mahrez was working hard for LCFC but he lacked support and that was clearly visible.

Leicester’s 4-5-1 formation made it extremely difficult for Atletico to find any way through the middle, but they were finding space in wide areas and Leicester were struggling to keep the ball for any length of time when they do won it back.

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Atletico very nearly got their second goal in the 84th minute when Juanfran got in behind the Leicester defence inside the right-hand edge of the penalty box and looked to roll the ball across the six yard box towards an unmarked Griezmann at the back post, but Benalouane had positioned himself well on the edge of the six yard box to cut out the cross.

Atlético got uncountable number of free-kicks especially in the second half, but they decided to take the free-kick short and maintain possession. Leicester though were remaining relatively well organised in defence.

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Atletico had another chance to double their lead in the 88th minute when Correa – who had earlier replaced Carrasco – skipped away from Simpson with some exceptional footwork, inside the Leicester City penalty box, but there was no one in Atlético’s shirt waiting in the middle and his low cross went all the way through and out the other side of the box, from where Leicester hacked the ball clear but it was only a momentary rest bite as Atletico immediately regained possession.

Atlético will now travel to the King Power Stadium with a one-goal advantage. The Atletico Madrid players appeared happy with the results and Leicester won’t be disappointed too. Their defence did the job for them and now they will try to take out Atlético’s defence when they meet again in the second leg.