Will Atletico march on?

For most teams on this planet, a one goal lead would most typically be described as ‘slender’. That’s unless you’re talking about defensive specialists Atletico Madrid. They’ve won their last four matches 1-0 and keeper Jan Oblak has conceded a mere 16 goals in 36 games. Defending is an art and Atleti can produce defensive masterpieces. 

Another will be needed on Tuesday night, though, as they prepare to defend their lead against the powerhouse that is Bayern Munich. Incidentally, the reigning Bundesliga champions haven’t been performing at their same high standards in recent months, despite closing in on the title once more. They scraped past Juventus in the last round, a result the Italian giants will probably still be rueing and stumbled to a 1-1 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend. Thomas Muller has said in a recent interview that his team have lost their spark of late, and that things aren’t coming as easily for them.

If there’s one team that won’t make it easy for you, it’s their opponents on Tuesday night. Los Rojiblancos produced another industrial, if not inspiring performance at the weekend against Rayo Vallecano, to keep them well positioned in the title race. They’ve won their last seven matches and 13 of the last 15.

Another statistic in Atleti’s favour, yet not so promising for their rivals across the capital, is that seven of the last eight Champions League finals have been won by teams playing the second leg of the semis away from home. It poses the question as to how much home advantage really offers.

Undoubtedly, Bayern fans will be expecting a reaction from their team, after having been made to wait another week for the League title. The Allianz Arena will be rocking, in response to the atmosphere provided at Vicente Calderon last week. This is Atletico’s first appearance at this stadium, and Diego Simeone will be hoping his team aren’t overawed by the occasion. Atletico aren’t normally a side to be overawed by anything. They don’t have a great record in Germany, mind, winning just five of 17 encounters there.

What they do possess, however, is a lucky charm in the form of Augusto Fernandez’s father. He came to visit his son from Argentina after his side’s loss to Sporting Gijon. Since then the only match Atletico have lost was the first leg to Barcelona, which they ended up winning overall. It’s been reported in Spanish newspaper Marca that he’s been persuaded to stay around a bit longer, at least until the end of season.

Superstitious or not, Atletico Madrid have form on their side, one of the best defensive units around and an uncanny ability to shine when it really matters. They want revenge for 2013 and to quote Fernando Torres: “We will win this war.”