Atletico Madrid caught the imagination of the world when they scripted one of the greatest underdog stories in football. Despite their vastly inferior resources, the Rojiblancos lifted the La Liga title ahead of the European giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.n 2014,
Two years later, following the same path of Atleti, a small club from East Midlands made the whole world sit up and take notice by lifting the Premier League title. Although the two places are separated by 1373
Unlike many one-season wonder clubs, Atletico Madrid
The love for 4-4-2
(Formations of Leicester City (left) and Atletico Madrid (right))
The traditional 4-4-2 was on the verge of extinction a few years back with teams opting for different variations of 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1 for defensive solidity and possession. Atletico Madrid brought it back into fashion before Leicester City took it up and ran with it. In Atletico’s system, the wide players are an essential component in both attacking and defending. Saul Niguez and Koke are not traditional wingers and often make the midfield a flat four by tucking inside. This gives
Atletico’s style of sitting back, conceding possession and scoring on counter-attacks have proved to be fruitful in Europe as their third Champions League final appearance in two years would prove. Leicester employed a similar strategy in their title winning run and will have to do it more clinically in their European campaign.
In terms of goal scoring, Leicester and Atletico have identical numbers in their respective leagues. With both teams playing a similar style of football, the matching numbers in goals scored is expected. But, remarkably, even the goal scoring situations are alike for both the teams. Although they are way behind high-scoring teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid, who have scored more than 100 goals in the la Liga, Leicester and Atletico bank on winning games 1-0, having won 7 and 10 games in their leagues, respectively, with that scoreline.
"What I want, my
"For me, I am very simple in my analysis. Football is about putting the ball in the net of your opponent and stopping your opponent," Mourinho once said, and that is exactly what Leicester and Atletico does. In the second leg of this year’s Champions League semi-final game between Atletico and Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola’s side had 72% of the possession and 33 shots, still they ended up on the losing side after Atletico went through to the finals on the away goals rule. Similarly, in Leicester’s match against Manchester United, the Foxes had just 29% of the possession but still returned from Old Trafford with a point proving Mourinho’s point right. In fact, champions Leicester are the third-worst team in the Premier League in terms of possession, with only Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion behind them. On the other hand, Atletico Madrid
With goal scoring not being their forte, solidity at the back becomes an important element of Atletico’s success both domestically and in Europe. Diego Simeone’s side have the second-best defensive record
Tackling the defence
Another part of Atletico’s impressive defensive record is the number of tackles they make per game. They have made the most number of tackles in the
We can see shades of Atletico’s defensive play in Ranieri’s Leicester as well. The Foxes made the second-most number of tackles in the Premier League, just behind Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side. However, when it comes to shots the difference between Ranieri’s work in progress and Simeone’s masterpiece becomes clear. Leicester
(Tackles made by Atletico (left) against Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final (second leg) and tackles by Leicester (right) against Manchester United in the Premier League.)
After failing in their prediction of picking Leicester City to be relegation candidates, the critics have now started to predict a miserable campaign for the Foxes when they will take on the European elites next season. Although they will find it tough to juggle between their European and Premier League commitments, Atletico’s successful run in the Champions League and the La Liga have shown us that the underdogs can match up to the big guns in Europe. The numbers just threw more light on how the Foxes can continue their underdog story in the Champions League next season. With a bit more squad depth and more defensive solidity, Leicester can become the next Atletico Madrid in Europe.