Madrid face Bayern after dispatching Barcelona in the quarter-finals and the Argentinian is eager to test the character of Pep Guardiola’s squad. “Bayern have many options, but in battles, the side with most soldiers does not win, but those who use their soldiers better,” said the Atlético manager.
His midfielder Saúl admitted he could not find any weaknesses in the Bayern team. “They [Bayern] are the most complete side, they have a lot of variety to their game and can attack through the middle or via the wings, and they are strong in the air,” Saúl said. “We will do what we always do; work as a team, fight to the death for every ball, treat the game as though it was a final, that’s only way we will be able to compete against a top side like Bayern. The main objective is to win the game.”
The defender Stefan Savic believes the match promises to be a clash of styles. While the Spanish side are happy to grind out results when necessary and are more ready to embrace the physical side of the game, Bayern operate a possession-based game built around Guardiola’s tactical nous.
Savic, who is in contention to replace the injured Diego Godín in central defence, said: “They have another style totally different from ours, but that’s the beauty of football – it can be played in different ways and all are worthy. We will see after the game which is best. Everyone wants to win the Champions League, but we must be calm and try to give our best. It will be a tough tie, but we are confident in ourselves.”
Savic is vying with José Giménez and Lucas Hernández for Godín’s shirt, while Yannick Carrasco is expected to start despite taking limited part in training on Monday. The Belgian is being treated carefully due to a sore ankle, with Augusto Fernández standing by.
Guardiola believes he must win the Champions League for his spell in Germany to be deemed a success. In his first two years, Bayern have suffered semi-final exits to La Liga opposition – losing to Real Madrid in 2013-14 and Barcelona 12 months ago, after first-leg defeats away from home each time.
“Three semis in three years is not something that every team does,” Guardiola said. “I have read in Munich that without winning the Champions League, the work would not be complete. I must accept that. But I am very fortunate to have lived and worked three years in Germany. I am a better coach, a better guy, more relaxed, I have enjoyed it a lot. We will try and reach the final, as we did against Madrid and Barcelona, and now this year against Atletico.
“We are very happy to be here, we know that all semi-finalists are difficult,” he said. “The best trophy Atlético have achieved, with Diego Simeone and his team, is that they are now equals to Barcelona and Real Madrid, just as feared when they play in Europe. I have been outside Spain for five years, but have watched on the TV, and their consistency has been really impressive. Normally only the biggest teams can play every three days, and keep winning, season after season.”
Atlético Madrid (4-4-2, probable) Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Lucas, Filipe Luís; Koke, Gabi, Augusto, Saúl; Griezmann, Torres.
Bayern Munich (4-1-4-1, probable) Neuer; Lahm, Kimmich, Martínez, Alaba; Alonso; Costa, Müller, Vidal, Ribéry; Lewandowski.
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