We are but two weeks away from Leicester City’s historic bout with Atlético Madrid the QUARTERFINALS OF THE UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE...so we figured we’d continue our little series with the fine folks at Into The Calderon.
You can find part one of this little question and answer beauty right this way.
Fosse Posse: How well does Atletico do with the majority of possession? Leicester will surely all them to have the ball so what will they be able to do with it?
Into The Calderon: It's interesting, because I think the expectation is that Leicester will cede the ball to Atlético, especially in the first leg in Spain, but I'm not sure that will be the case. Atlético don't necessarily care about possession either, even at home in the Vicente Calderón.
This past weekend, Atleti let Sevilla have more than 60% of the ball in a 3-1 win. A 3-0 home win over 14th-placed Valencia on March 5 saw the visitors do nothing with 57% possession. Bayer Leverkusen had upwards of 55% possession in both legs of the Round of 16 tie; Atleti rolled to a 4-2 win in the first leg and drew 0-0 in the second leg.
However, should the game of "Who wants the ball less?" go Leicester's way, Atlético will have to adjust. A deep, bunkered defense is something this team has struggled against at times, as pacy attackers like Yannick Carrasco, Ángel Correa and Kévin Gameiro really thrive on the counter. But Simeone still has the tools to break down this setup at his disposal.
The passing of Griezmann, Koke and Filipe Luís can unlock a deep defense and the finishing of Gameiro and Fernando Torres will be key, while Gabi and Saúl Ñíguez are excellent at recovering the ball.
FP: What makes Atletico special? Beyond Griezmann, who is the dangerman?
ITC: In terms of individual players not named Griezmann, you're going to want to watch out for Carrasco and Koke.
Carrasco's end product is lacking a bit too often for our liking, but he could go off and rip apart a defense apart at any time. Koke is a critical player; he can play all across the midfield and he has been handed a freer role to drift into the middle, which has allowed him to increasingly exert more control over tempo and become the focal point on the counter (it also somewhat resolves a major debate from the last few years between Atlético supporters and writers as to where Koke is at his best).
But an in-form Griezmann - and he's been sensational since the new year - is what makes Atlético most dangerous. He can do so many things with the ball at his feet, and his movement off the ball is so clever. Simeone raved in a recent interview that he is a player who doesn't need to be told much about what he has to do; he just does it. He's Atleti's Lionel Messi in that way.