Bayern Munich put in one of their worst attacking displays of recent memory, as Atletico Madrid completely frustrated the Germans out of the contest, surprisingly took the game to their visitors, and got a deserved win, despite Antoine Griezmann’s late missed penalty.
Summer signings Kevin Gameiro and Nicolas Gaitan started on the bench for Diego Simeone’s side, who chose to play his favoured 4-4-2 formation for this encounter.
Atleti currently sit 3rd in La Liga, having only conceded two goals in six league games. The side are also one of only three teams that are yet to be beaten, alongside Real Madrid and Villarreal.
Antoine Griezmann had been in exceptional form heading into this game, scoring 5 goals in 5 league games, and after a summer that saw him lose two finals with club and country, the Frenchman was raring to go.
Angel Correa, Sime Vrsaljko, Lucas Hernandez, Kevin Gameiro, Thomas Partey, Nico Gaitan, and Andre Moreira were the available subs.
This is how Atleti lined up:
Carlo Ancelotti has done a spectacular job after taking over from Pep Guardiola, winning his first 8 competitive matches with the club, and conceding just one goal(!) in the process.
The Italian went with an attacking 4-3-3 that he hoped would overwhelm the Spanish team in midfield, and create chances in the box.
Robert Lewandowski had been in terrific form of his own heading into this game, having already scored 9 goals in all competitions this season.
Javi Martinez has been a man reborn this season. The Spaniard finally seems to have put his injury troubles behind him, and his form has been the reason new signing Hummels has seen limited game time.
Mats Hummels, Arjen Robben, Rafinha, Sven Ulreich, Kingsley Coman, Joshua Kimmich, and Renato Sanches made up the bench for the German Champions.
Here’s how Bayern lined up:
Bayern’s early dominance:
The three man midfield, plus Atletico’s tendency to defend deep meant Bayern dominated the early passage of play. Thiago in particular saw a lot of the ball anytime the Germans were in possession, but the Spaniard was restricted to long passes out to the wing, or short exchanges with the other two in midfield, thanks to Atletico’s compact shape.
Atleti forcing the ball out wide:
Anytime Bayern were in possession, they were forced to play the ball out wide to the fullbacks or the wingers, who could then only cross the ball into an isolated Lewandowski. Diego Simeone’s side are considered the hardest team in Europe to break down, and that was on show at the Vicente Calderon.
Atleti start to dominate:
About 10 minutes into the half, the side from Madrid started to dominate proceedings. Bayern continuously losing the ball in the final third meant the Spanish defence pushed up, and the two up front started to press the opposing centre backs, a tactic that almost led to the first goal.
Javi Martinez took a poor touch while receiving a pass from Jerome Boateng just outside the box, and Fernando Torres pounced. The Spanish striker managed to turn Martinez once, but couldn’t get his shot away quickly and the centre back recovered with a magnificent tackle. It was a rare sign of nerves from Bayern, that showed just how much Atleti had frustrated them this early in the game.
It is a testament to Atletico’s defensive setup that Robert Lewandowski only had 31* touches of the ball throughout the 90 min, the joint lowest of those who started the game for Bayern. Even Manuel Neuer (38) managed to see more of the ball than the Polish striker.
The defence pushed up anytime the ball was passed into Lewandowski’s feet, forcing him to immediately pass it back with his own back to goal. This meant that the Germans didn’t have an outlet up front who could turn and run at the Atletico Madrid centre backs, and so were forced to play in their own half anytime Atleti lost possession in the final third.
*Stats obtained from Whoscored.com
Atleti take the lead:
Diego Simeone’s men had created the better chances in the first half, including a Fernando Torres header that hit the post, and were duly rewarded for their dominance in the 35th minute through a wonderful effort from Yannick Carrasco, that went in off the far post.
In many ways, the goal just about summed up the half. A botched backwards header from Xabi Alonso around the halfway line gave the ball to Antoine Griezmann, who steadied himself before laying it off to the onrushing Carrasco. The Belgian took a touch into space, before unleashing a powerful low shot that beat Neuer and went in off from the far post, from just outside the box. It was nothing less than the Spanish team deserved for their efforts.
Bayern continue to dominate possession, but create little:
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, with Bayern Munich dominating the possession stats, but creating little to nothing in front of Jan Oblak’s goal. Carlo Ancelotti tried to turn things around with a series of three quick changes: Arjen Robben came on for Thomas Muller, followed by Mats Hummels replacing Jerome Boateng, and finally Joshua Kimmich came on Thiago Alcantara, all in the space of seven minutes.
The last change was one the Italian manager had been hoping he wouldn’t have to make, but was forced into it. Thiago, already on a yellow card for a trip on Filipe Luis in the first half, looked increasingly frustrated as the game wore on, and had started to dive into challenges. A red card was the last thing the Bavarians needed.
Diego Simeone finally freshened up his side around the 72’ mark, bringing on summer signings Kevin Gameiro and Nico Gaitan (76’ mark) to replace Yannick Carrasco and Fernando Torres respectively, who had both run their socks off for the cause and had looked the most threatening.
Luis wins penalty:
Filipe Luis won Atletico a penalty and a chance to go 2 – 0 up, when he was brought down inside the box by a terrible challenge from Arturo Vidal, who charged straight into the left back as he shifted the ball wide.
Antoine Griezmann, who’d had a very quiet game by his standards, stepped up to take the set piece and banish the memories of the final against Real Madrid earlier this year, but could only direct his effort straight into the crossbar and out. It would matter little later as Atletico would go on to win the game, but the Frenchman’s confidence seemed at an all time low when he was later replaced by Thomas Partey in stoppage time.
Atleti withstood a final few waves of attack from the Germans in stoppage time to claim a memorable victory, and go top of group D. The return group match at the Allianz Arena will certainly be a spicy affair, as the two masterminds of world football meet again.
Man of the Match:
Filipe Luis was an immense presence for his side throughout the 90 minutes, keeping the likes of Thomas Muller and Philipp Lahm quiet, and charging forward at any opportunity he got. The left back ended the game with the joint highest tackles in the game (4, level with Juanfran), and the joint second most touches in the Atletico Madrid side, at 69.