Well, this was a truly abysmal game for Atlético Madrid, but one we all should have seen coming. With a thin squad and advancement through the group already assured, Atlético were not about to take any chances regarding player fitness. It was a really dull match, devoid of much attacking intent from either side. Club Brugge were guaranteed Europa League football through Monaco’s collapse. Borussia Dortmund went through the group as winners as they won 2-0 away to claim first place.
Atlético’s potential opponents are PSG, Porto, Bayern, Manchester City and Juventus. Clearly, Porto is the tie Atleti will be praying for as their finishing as runners-up fell unkindly for them this time. Though as we have seen, Diego Simeone is capable of pulling off improbable Champions League wins, in particular because his style is better suited to a knockout competition. At the very least, it will be good to see Atlti playing in the knockout round this year after last year’s failure.
In regards to Tuesday’s performance, Javi Montero did well to play 90 minutes in a Champions League game and keep a clean sheet, so well done to him. Koke was the mattress makers’ best player on the day, and that isn’t something we’ve been used to saying this season. By completing over 90% of his passes and pulling the strings in midfield, Koke was able to craft chances for teammates and be more influential than he has been at times this season. He was the left central midfielder Tuesday, which allowed him to cut inside on his favored right to deliver balls into the box. If Atlético had more of an aerial presence, perhaps that would have produced a goal. Outside of those two performances, not too many others stood out, which is somewhat concerning, but this group of players has had a lot of matches in recent weeks and will no doubt benefit from the winter break.