One game to go. Just one game left to reach the final Atletico fans have been dreaming of since August when the season kicked off. It is a tie that goes beyond the 90 minutes that decides who makes the Champions League final; it has become a battle of styles, a battle of ideologies.
Guardiola vs Simeone, Tiki-Taka vs Cholismo. The 1-0 result in the first leg allows los Rojiblancos to dream of reaching Milan. They know that any result, or a loss by one goal - as long as they score - will mean a trip to Italy to face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the 2015-16 Champions League final.
The Bavarian side look to complete a comeback with virtually all of their players available to them. Jerome Boateng started in the side's 1-1 draw against Borussia Monchengladbach at the weekend and Guardiola had the chance to rest most of the players who played at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday night. Boateng's inclusion could have given him the sharpness that will allow him to be considered for selection by Guardiola on Tuesday night.
Frank Ribery had been a doubt until the last minute due to muscular discomfort, but it seems that the French winger will also be available to Pep. The game has arrived too early for Holger Badstuber and Arjen Robben and they will be the only German absences for the match.
"I prepare my team to win, not to please others"
During the course of the week, several figures in the world of football have given their opinions about los Rojiblanco's style of play. In a nutshell, not all of them enjoy watching Atletico play football. The last of them, Xavi Hernández, the former Barcelona captain, declared in an interview "A big team like Real Madrid or Barça can't play this way. I don't enjoy watching sides playing so deep."
Simeone persevered in his answers that his style is based on empowering his players and built in order to help them win. Simeone has never played by the book and does not intend on changing his tactics now for the sake of what other people think.
Never stop believing
This is the motto that has accompanied the team during the final stages of the season and this is what Simeone preaches on a daily basis. Because the players, the technical staff, the whole club and the fans believe in this philosophy, Atletico could find themselves in another final in a couple of weeks.
The Argentinian manager said, in his press conference just a few hours before the match, his team felt more comfortable during the first half of the game played at the Vicente Calderón. He was referring to the number of times Atletico were able to win possession in Bayern's defensive half and transform those turnovers into attacking chances. It would be rare to find a coach that would invite Bayern Munich to play close to his keeper for 90 minutes and, of course, Simeone is not one of them.
Although, it is possible that during some stages of the game on Tuesday night we can assume Atletico will try to break free of their defensive shape, if only to give their defenders a breather and put some pressure on Bayern's defense. It is understood that if the Colchoneros score, Pep's team will be forced to climb a mountain and will result in Atletico sitting very deep and shutting down Bayern.
Griezmann &Torres - weapons on the counter
Atletico Madrid were able to check the state of the grass of the Allianz Arena in their last training session before the game. The images provided by the club showed the amiable atmosphere during their practice but no signs as to who the warriors Simeone will choose to try to conquer the German side. Despite our lack of information, we can imagine the manager's doubts amount to two: who Godín's partner will be in the centre of defense and the choice between Augusto Fernandez or Yannick Carrasco.
Diego Godín has completely recovered from the injury he suffered in San Mamés and looks to be a certainty in Simeone's starting XI. He is one of the most experienced players in the squad and one of the captains of the team. He has worked hard to be available (one week ahead of time) for the game and his presence is key for the squad to survive. Savic and Giménez started in the first leg fixture and did well on the night. The Montenegrin enjoyed a break against Rayo Vallecano last weekend, which could be taken as a sign that Simeone wants him in the full of his health on Tuesday night.
Regarding another big decision for Simeone is whether he opts for the omnipresence of Augusto or the speed of Carrasco.
The Argentinian was high on the list of candidates for the Man Of The Match award at the Calderón, completing a stunning performance where he won the ball back 12 times during the game. Meanwhile, the Belgian winger has been out of the squad for two games but could be on the team sheet just like he was at the Camp Nou for the semi-final first leg. His ability to drive forward and dribble directly at opponents could be key against tired German legs in the second half of the game.
Simeone has full trust in the capacity of Griezmann and Torres and this is as good as locked in also. The two attackers starred in a scintillating move last time out when they executed a magnificent counter-attack that ended with Fernando hitting the post. The manager probably wants them to lead the line and hold up the ball to relieve pressure from Guardiola's relentless possession-based game.
The whole squad traveled to Munich and Simeone will be forced to make omissions closer to the game. If I was a betting man, I would have to go with: Bernabé, Lucas, Tiago (still no medical clearance), Kranevitter and Óliver.
Possible XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Savic, Godín, Filipe Luis; Augusto, Gabi, Saúl, Koke; Griezmann, Torres.
In: Oblak, Moyá, Bernabé, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Lucas, Filipe, Juanfran, Gámez, Tiago, Kranevitter, Augusto, Gabi, Koke, Saúl, Thomas, Óliver, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto, Torres.