In-form Atlético Madrid will meet in-form Manchester City on Tuesday night in the only Champions League quarterfinal clash featuring two defending domestic champions.
Atlético (Group B runners-up) progressed to its first two-legged Champions League quarterfinal since 2017 after defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford three weeks ago. Diego Simeone’s side is playing its best football all season, having won seven of the past eight and outscoring opponents 17-4.
“United had different characteristics from City,” Simeone said during Monday’s press conference. “City are more positional and dominate all areas of the pitch. We must increase and improve on everything we did (at Old Trafford).”
Man City (Group A winners) defeated Sporting Clube de Portugal 5-0 on aggregate in the round of 16, with all five goals coming in an overwhelming first-leg display at Estádio José Alvalade. City are unbeaten in seven, with five wins and two draws in that span.
“What I like most about City is the effort they make to win the ball back,” Simeone said. “What impresses me is (Raheem) Sterling, (Kevin) De Bruyne, how they run and pressure, they never think a ball is lost. That’s the work ethic every coach wants.”
Both teams will be missing key players through injury or suspension on Tuesday night. Atlético traveled without Yannick Carrasco, as the Belgium winger is finishing a three-game UEFA suspension. Full-back Kyle Walker, usually a fixture in Pep Guardiola’s starting 11, is unavailable through a suspension of his own.
Rúben Dias, Man City’s star center-back, remains sidelined with a hamstring strain. And Atlético can not count on Héctor Herrera or José Giménez, who picked up a new injury (his third this season) during Saturday’s victory over Alavés.
Giménez’s absence will force Simeone into another defensive reshuffle. It could prompt a rare start for Felipe Monteiro, who has played only 12 minutes since March 6. Alternatively, Cholo could move Šime Vrsaljko into central defense, meaning Marcos Llorente would take over as the right-back/right-wingback.
“It’s clear that we’ve had a good run of victories in the league, but teams go through good and bad streaks. Now we’re on a positive run, and we have to take advantage of it,” Llorente said Monday.
“The team is eager and ambitious, we know that it is an important game against a very difficult opponent, who have had great years and great seasons and will make things very difficult for us. But our team has things clear, and tomorrow we will come out to play a great match.”
Date April 5, 2022
Location City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, United Kingdom
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
SB Nation opposition site Bitter and Blue