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Three keys to an Atlético win or draw at Leicester City

Atleti carry a 1-0 lead into England and a finely-poised second leg

Club Atletico de Madrid Training & Press Conference Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
  1. Use an early onslaught to your advantage. Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare laid the groundwork for Tuesday after the first leg, saying that his team would have to attack more and create chances against one of Europe’s top defenses. Over the course of 90 minutes, this is probably good news for Atlético Madrid, but in the early going, I expect Leicester to feed off a raucous King Power Stadium and go for an early goal. Los colchoneros can use this to their advantage, as there will be space to break and threaten on the counterattack if Leicester commit resources forward. An early goal for Leicester would be a blow; an early goal for Atlético would be a knockout punch.
  2. Get Kévin Gameiro and his pace into the game. The Frenchman is finally fit after he sustained a groin injury on national team duty. The timing could not be better. Gameiro is not likely to displace Fernando Torres in Tuesday’s XI, as he is not fit enough to go all 90 minutes, but he will be needed as an outlet on the break at some point in the match.

The speedy forward will trouble Leicester’s defense - which will be pieced together in light of Robert Huth’s suspension and Wes Morgan’s rickety back. It seems Morgan will play, but the options if he cannot go are midfielder Daniel Amartey slotting in next to Yohan Benalouane or Christian Fuchs moving over from left back and a start for 20-year-old Ben Chilwell.

If Atlético are to kill off this tie, Gameiro’s pace, quickness and understanding with Antoine Griezmann will be essential, especially if Leicester have more than 32 percent of the ball.

3. Rely on experience. Atlético really do not have to overcomplicate this. Yes, it will be a tight, detail-oriented game as Diego Simeone said Monday. But the fact is that Leicester did not challenge Atleti last week and will need to summon a much different, more inspired performance Tuesday. The Foxes are capable of doing this - ask Jorge Sampaoli - and will not go down easy.

That said, there seems to be a feeling that the atmosphere at King Power Stadium will destabilize Atlético and work heavily to Leicester’s advantage. I respectfully submit that that is nonsense.

All respect to Leicester’s support and what I am sure will be a fiery King Power, but over the past three-plus Champions League seasons, Atlético have played twice at Allianz Arena, twice at Camp Nou and twice at San Siro. Simeone has also taken his team to such scenic locations as Kazakhstan, Russia, Stamford Bridge, Juventus Stadium and the Santiago Bernabéu.

In short: Atleti have been there and done that in high-intensity, high-pressure stadiums over the past few years. It’s a tremendous resume. If Atleti fall victim to another Leicester comeback on Tuesday, it likely will be down to self-inflicted wounds rather than hooliganism and intimidation.