- Feb 9, 2013
max said on several occasions - and i have no reason to question his words - that the team wasn't in the best physical shape lately. players like pjanic, bonucci, bernardeschi (etc) looked like some reborn men compared to the first leg. atleti eat us alive after the hour mark in madrid. dunno what happened, might be physiotherapy, rest, different training or food, or simply some magic potion, but physically, we were at a completely different level yesterday. i saw the first half an hour and i was like "fuck, that's intense, i wonder how long can we keep this high tempo", and most of the team never got tired. okay, spina and mario did, they were consequently subbed out, still, you get the point: it might have not been some crappy mentality lately, but - as max pointed out - rather bad physical shape.
He also said he had wanted us to play in this same fashion in the first leg, but that he made different choices for the line-up and the team wasn’t able to express this, and couldn’t move the ball around fast enough. Basically implied he made some poor choices for the XI in the first leg, for what he wanted us to do.
I think sometimes people forget that there are two sides playing to win, trying to win, and that occasionally we will get beaten by a better side, or a side that just plays a better game than us. Atletico has been one of the best teams in Europe for 6 years now. They are a bitch to play against in the knockouts. Only us and Madrid have knocked them out in years. Simeone sets them up in a way that is very difficult to break down and they are masters of playing on the counter and taking advantage of set pieces.
Our offensive play is rightly getting plaudits for yesterday, but our defensive strategy was also fantastic. We took away all their strengths. Closed down their counters immediately. We didn’t give Griezzmann, Lemar, Morata an inch of space. Not a single shot on target by them. We didn’t give up a single corner or dangerous free-kick. Cancelo and Matuidi had beastly games in terms of ball-winning (11 tackles between them). Bonucci, Chiellini, Can had 10 clearances and 6 interceptions between them. It was a masterful performance on both ends of the pitch.