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How Bayern fell foul of Simeone's Atlético again

Bayern München had not lost since April's defeat at Atlético Madrid before falling to the Rojiblancos again on Wednesday; Joe Walker explains how Diego Simeone's men did it.

Diego Simeone once again found a way to beat Bayern
Diego Simeone once again found a way to beat Bayern ©Getty Images

When Atlético Madrid beat Bayern München back in April to secure a UEFA Champions League semi-final first-leg advantage, Diego Simeone's men did what they do best.

Despite enjoying just 31% possession, they soaked up the pressure and hit decisively hit on the break. A little bit of luck helped too as David Alaba's long-range rocket hit the bar, while Saúl Ñíguez's stunning solo effort clipped the post on its way in.

Just five months later Atlético produced a perfect sequel. Another solid defensive display, backed up by Yannick Carrasco's first-half effort earned the Rojiblancos three vital points to take control of Group D.

Watch highlights of Atlético's win
Watch highlights of Atlético's win

For Bayern it was a case of déjà-vu. Their last four trips to Spain have all ended in defeat without scoring and indeed their previous loss in any competition came on that occasion against Atlético.

There is a reason the Rojiblancos have lost just one of their last 31 UEFA club competition fixtures at the Vicente Calderón and their coach is a major factor behind that. Simeone fielded nine of the players that started in April and this time was able to outsmart rival Carlo Ancelotti as Bayern walked right into his tactical trap.

For all of the similarities between the two matches, it was the one tactical change Simeone made that ultimately made the difference. Carrasco replaced the defensively minded Augusto Fernández to offer Atlético's midfield a more attacking threat to accompany Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann up top.

Yet the foundations of both wins remained the same. In midfield Saúl, Gabi and Koke were indefatigable, harrying and harassing, while Griezmann's determination allowed him to pick the usually ice-cool Xabi Alonso's pocket in the build-up to the goal.

©Getty Images

Once ahead, Atlético were content to sit back and look to see out their lead. Yet, unlike in their siege in search of a vital away goal in last year's semi-final, Bayern did not possess the same threat. Truth be told, the Calderón faithful could enjoy a famous European night without their hearts in their mouths.

Bayern went on to finish the game with 63% of the ball, but the home side were comfortable and even had the opportunity to double their lead late on from the penalty spot.

Just like in last season's final, Griezmann smashed the spot-kick off the crossbar. Unlike in Milan this time it did not matter as Bayern's Spanish struggles continued even with Ancelotti, who got the better of Atlético with Real Madrid in 2014 and 2015, on their side.

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