Bookmakers promoted Bayern Munchen to UEFA Champions League favouritism after Barcelona became the 25th consecutive team to fail in its attempt to mount a successful title defence.
Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City is the UEFA Champions League pecking order according to the bookmaking fraternity but one thinks that the consensus opinion is wrong and that one side in particular is worthy of much more respect. That side is Atletico, the team that Diego Simeone has crafted into a disciplined, formidable team that does not possess any major weakness. Atletico is not as flash as its three UEFA Champions League rivals but Simeone believes that substance means more than style.
Atletico Madrid has been paired with Bayern Munchen in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, with the first leg set down for Wednesday 27 April in Spain. One understands why Bayern is the betting favourite for both the tie and the tournament but Atletico is the German Bundesliga team’s worst nightmare because styles make fights. Bayern has averaged an amazing 67 per cent ball possession en route to the UEFA Champions League last four but that statistic will not faze Atletico, which has an equivalent mean of 48%, at all. Atletico is the world’s best side at absorbing pressure and, while its critics say that it is not as easy on the eye as the likes of Bayern, Manchester City and Real Madrid, the Mattressers are all business and no pleasure. Atletico had Barcelona’s number in Barca’s post-Guardiola tiki-taka era once Simeone had bedded in his team’s system and one thinks that the Mattressers will trouble Bayern’s coach again.
If Atletico Madrid gets past Bayern Munchen it will line up against either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final that is programmed for Saturday 28 May in Milan. One cannot have Manchester City as the UEFA Champions League winner – the Citizens are an embarrassing 1-3-9 in their 13 English Premier League matches against fellow top-nine sides and, as fun as it is to see Leicester and Tottenham battle it out for the English championship, no-one seriously rates the division as Europe’s finest.
Real does represent Europe’s strongest top flight – maybe not in depth but certainly in quality – but the Meringues are prone to making defensive clangers. For example, Real has managed to keep only three clean sheets in its 16 Spanish Primera Division away games and none of them took place versus a side ranked above ninth. Indeed, Real has not shut out any of the Spanish Primera Division’s top six teams either at home or on its travels. Those statistics would have to be of considerable concern to Real fans. Real’s most recent loss occurred against Atletico in their Spanish Primera Division derby at the Santiago Bernabeu and it would be fair to say that the Meringues have struggled versus the Mattressers in recent times – Simeone’s battlers are 5-4-1 in the series since the beginning of the 2014-2015 European season.
Several bookmakers, including SkyBet and Unibet, are offering odds of +400 about Atletico Madrid going one better than it did in 1974 and 2014 when it was the runner-up in UEFA’s primary club competition. Those odds appeal as do Marathonbet‘s offer of +177 about Atletico eliminating Bayern Munchen in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.
Simeone celebrated his 10th year as a manager two months ago and he is on course to become one of the most successful coaches of his era. That Atletico Madrid won the Spanish Primera Division title in 2014 was a remarkable achievement given the advantages that Barcelona and Real Madrid have over their domestic rivals and the Mattressers were seconds away from UEFA Champions League glory in that same term.
Back Atletico Madrid to win its first-ever UEFA Champions League and derive financial benefit from watching the Mattressers frustrate whichever opponents they meet.
Atletico Madrid to win the Champions League
Atletico Madrid to eliminate Bayern Munich
Champions League Semi Final