Javi Martinez believes Atletico Madrid represent the hardest possible Champions League opponents for Bayern Munich.
The sides meet on Wednesday in the first leg of the quarter-final, with Real Madrid and Manchester City in the other half of the draw, and Spain international Martinez told Marca either of the other team teams would have been preferable.
“They’re the hardest team we could have played against. A very tough team. Everyone knows they’re aggressive, very intense, but their game has evolved a lot. It’s not only intensity and passion, they can play well with the ball and have great players. They’re complete,” Martinez said.
“Obviously Real Madrid and Barcelona are more well-known but those who follow La Liga know what Diego Simeone is doing. It’s amazing that at this stage of the season they’re fighting against two great teams for the League and Champions League.
“It’s true that as a centre-back it will be difficult against Atletico in the air, but they’re powerful in all aspects. We’re also good in the air too. It will be a good battle.
“We’ll try to have the ball, control the tempo, prevent the counter-attacks, which are very dangerous. They’re an opponent that requires you to be alert for 180 minutes because it seems as if you’re in control, but there can be danger at any minute.
“Both teams defend well, conceding few goals. We protect ourselves with the ball and when you have it, it’s difficult to be hurt. Bayern will go for it, that’s for sure.
“Our style is closest to Barcelona’s. I wouldn’t say Barca were mediocre against Atletico, but they always manage to play well against Barca. We have to be alert so the same doesn’t happen.”
Having praised Simeone, Martinez expanded on the Coach’s work in his time at Vicente Calderon and could see him at a club such as Bayern.
“With what he does he could work anywhere. He’s gaining respect worldwide. I look at the relationship with the players and Simeone is brutal,” Martinez noted.
“He’s the boss, the leader of everything. Every player is represented by him. He’s created a group and convinced them to row in the same direction, that’s the key to this team.”