Carlo Ancelotti and Diego Simeone put their 100% records to start the season on the line in what has become a battle of two European heavyweights. Bayern were fresh off a 5-0 thumping of Rostov in their last European outing while Atletico defeated PSV Eindhoven by the slimmest of margins in Eindhoven two weeks ago.
Bayern bossed the opening exchanges of the game and it appeared as though it would be another long night of defend and counter for los Rojiblancos if the first few minutes were anything to go by. That is not how it ended, however.
Thomas Muller had the first chance of the game when the ball was lobbed towards him and he struck a first-time, over-the-shoulder volley off the hands of Jan Oblak, who was on a mission, yet again, to foil any attempts the German had of getting on the scoresheet.
Javi Martinez nearly had his pocket picked when Fernando Torres put pressure on in his own penalty area and the Spaniard slipped before regaining composure and clearing the danger.
Diego Godin won the ball back inside Bayern’s half in the 20th minute before feeding it to Carrasco, who bought himself a yard with a move to the right, and rifled a shot that was well saved by Neuer.
After 21 minutes, it seemed Atletico would surely take the lead but Fernando Torres could not get his header at the back post on target as it rebounded off the post and into a cluster of players before being saved by Neuer. The game remained a stalemate but Atletico’s fans were gearing up for something big. Whether or not that big thing would reveal itself was another question.
The question was answered not long after, on 35 minutes, when Yannick Ferreira Carrasco found himself on the ball and on the break with Fernando Torres to his right hand side. The Belgian decided to go it alone and it proved to be a wise choice as he shot low and on target to Neuer’s right as the ball went in off the post to give Atletico a deserved lead before half-time.
The Vicente Calderon was truly hopping at this stage and Atletico were playing some solid, entertaining football. All was right by the Manzanares on another European night as the referee blew the whistle at half-time.
The second half started with Atletico lined up just as they did at the start along with Bayern, who also remained unchanged.
Atletico started the better of the two sides and had a couple of half chances with Saul having the best effort after a series of decent attacks. His shot went off target though and it was as you were entering the last 25 minutes of the game.
Thiago was taken off after two successive fouls that could have seen him go in the book for the second time and Atletico had their tails up yet again. They had Bayern Munich’s number and they sensed it.
Carrasco found himself with room at the edge of the box and tried to curl another one around Neuer but the German had himself well positioned and saved from the Belgian this time out.
Bayern cut some frustrating figures as the clock wound down but it seemed as though Atletico were teetering somewhere nicely between fourth and fifth gear. They had a chance with 15 to go when Gameiro broke and fed the ball to Torres, who made it to the end line before lobbing a cross up to Griezmann. The Frenchman could not get up high enough and get under the ball. His header hit the top of his head and looped safely over Neuer’s crossbar.
Bayern had their best chance when Lewandowski found himself alone in the box when a cross landed perfectly on his head. He couldn’t get it on target as Oblak watched it drizzle past his post and Bayern’s goose seemed to be cooked.
Atletico thought they had it wrapped up when Filipe Luis won a penalty following a clumsy tackle from Arturo Vidal but Griezmann stepped up to take the penalty and rattled the crossbar with his effort.
Bayern had just four minutes by the time play resumed and were in need of something drastic in order to break down Atletico’s resilient defense. With Atletico pushing for a second and Bayern still concerned about conceding a second, it seemed a little too much too ask for the Germans.
That was the case as they ran out of ideas and time as the referee blew the final whistle on yet another Carlo Ancelotti defeat to Diego Simeone and Atletico Madrid.
Atletico go top of their Champions League group as the jury remains out on Bayern Munich under Carlo Ancelotti. Diego Simeone’s future at the club might remain uncertain but what is certain is that he has turned this team into one of the very best in Europe and after tonight’s display, they have again shown their credentials on the biggest stage of them all.