With the second legs of the Champions League quarterfinals taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, ESPN FC lays out the key tactical questions facing Leicester, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Juventus, Monaco and Borussia Dortmund ahead of their respective clashes.
Leicester vs. Atletico Madrid: Which side gets opportunities to counterattack?
The meeting between these two sides was always likely to be the most cautious and defensive-minded Champions League quarterfinal tie. Leicester essentially took their title-winning template from Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, using the same ultra-compact, counterattacking 4-4-2 formation that is so effective at upsetting possession-based opponents.
In a clash between two counterattacking teams, however, the first leg was somewhat dreary. There was only one goal, Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, and that stemmed from a counterattacking chance created when Leicester pushed men forward for a set piece. Otherwise, both sides concentrated on denying the other space.
Expect something similar this time around. Atletico can play defensively in the knowledge that a clean sheet will see them progress, but Leicester must also determinedly guard against conceding. One Atletico goal will mean Leicester will need to score three, and very few sides manage that against Simeone’s team.
This will therefore probably be a very similar contest to the game in Madrid: two sides sitting back and proactively disrupting their opponents’ best form of attack. But sooner or later, Leicester will need to push forward and take the game to Atletico, which will then leave spaces for their speedy forwards to sprint into.
Throughout Leicester’s incredible run of form over the past 18 months, they’ve very rarely approached big matches knowing they need to win, and that challenge might prove too difficult against Europe’s most ruthless counterattackers.