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Pep whines, Atleti shines; Champions League semi-final first leg talking points

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On one of the biggest European nights in Atletico Madrid history, we discuss five talking points from the game and the tie in general

Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

As the dust settles on last night's 1-0 victory for Atletico Madrid over Bayern Munich, there are plenty of talking points to discuss. From Saúl's mesmerising run that resulted in the only goal of the game to Atletico's entry into the wider public consciousness, we discuss them all here.

1. The Big Green

Atletico were busy at work on Wednesday night but they gave their groundskeeper a few days off prior to the game. The surface of the pitch itself was perfect but Pep Guardiola and several of his players had an issue with the lack of watering it received prior to the game.

"The movement of the ball was slow and the pitch didn't help," said Guardiola via Marca. "The grass was dry and we knew it would be like this," he added.

Javi Martinez also felt the pitch affected Bayern's style of play, "It was dry and caused us to fight more away, we had come to play fast and create danger," Javi Martinez said. "The pitch hampered us in our game."

Bayern can prepare the Allianz Arena's turf how they choose so expect a much slicker surface for the return leg on Tuesday night.

2. Don't compare Saúl Ñíguez to Messi

Lionel Messi was absent from both Champions League semi-finals but he appeared twice during Pep Guardiola's press conference. The first time, a confused journalist asked about the Argentinian Ballon d'Or winner having mixed up Messi with Xabi Alonso, to which Guardiola responded, "It would've been good to have Messi here."

Saúl Ñíguez' goal brought about comparisons to the little Maestro but Gaurdiola was quick to quell such talk. He said, "I don't know him personally but I have a lot of respect for the quality Saul has," he said.

"But it would be good for him not to compare him with Messi."

He is right. Saul is better!

3. Are Atletico Madrid favourites?

Every game is a final is what you always hear from Spanish coaches at this time of the year and while Atletico won their most recent "final", they have another one in less than a week in Germany.

Bayern Munich have scored 19 goals in five home games in the Champions League this season and will be favourites to get a result yet again on home soil next Tuesday. While Atletico did take the first half to their opponents, and looked like scoring on the break in the second with Fernando Torres desperately unlucky to have hit the post, Bayern Munich can score goals at will when the environment is right. Atletico will need a goal at the Allianz Arena and there is a sense that they could get one.

Atletico will not be comfortable as favourites, however, and will surely play down their chances during the build-up to next Tuesday's game. The 1-0 lead they carry to Munich will make the tactical battles and psychological warfare all the more interesting. Do Atletico sit deep from the start and take what they are given, or do they try to kill off the tie and catch an obviously stunned Bayern Munich off gaurd when the two sides meet again?

4. Holding on to the youngsters

The emergence of players like Saúl Ñíguez, Jose Gimenez and Jan Oblak is as exciting for neutrals as it is for Atletico Madrid fans, but it makes keeping them in the summer and beyond that little bit harder.

Diego Simeone will be at the Vicente Calderon next season which means few of the players will leave but reports have begun emerging as to where they will end up. With an entire summer ahead of them and silly money being thrown in their direction, can Atletico keep hold of their young core and continue to build through buying young players?

They are exciting times at the Vicente Calderon but expect plenty of attention both domestically and abroad for Atletico's young superstars.

5. Did Pep put too much pressure on himself?

Before the game at the Calderon, Guardiola said, "In three years we have got to three semi-finals, but I know that people say if I don't win the Champions League my work won't be complete."

In admitting that his work at Bayern Munich would be seen as a failure should he not win the Champions League, did the Spanish manager put undue pressure on himself?

Guardiola left Thomas Muller on the bench in a widely criticised move last night and might not have helped his side in doing so. The German talisman entered the game in the second half but is known for his clinical finishing in important games.

Muller admitted he was not happy with his role saying, "I try to cope with it professionally. It does not make you happy, but it's important to realise what is important for the team. If everyone who sits on the bench just flips, we can forget about the season."

Guardiola leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season but appears to be allowing the pressure get to him and could have been the mastermind behind his own downfall and the destroyer of his own legacy at the club with comments and decisions ahead of the Atletico clash.