Check out Football Italia’s preview of Atletico Madrid ahead of their Champions League Round of 16 tie with Inter.

The Current Situation

Atletico Madrid are in something of a strange place currently, having played quite good football all season, but conceded lots of goals, and they find themselves out of the Liga title race. That means this Champions League knockout, and their Copa del Rey semi-final against Athletic Club have taken on huge importance.

Most Atletico fans have enjoyed their football this season, particularly from Antoine Griezmann, who has a strong argument to be the best player in Spain currently. Behind him, they have a talented midfield, but their backline is the biggest weakness, and try as they might, they cannot put in reliable performance at the back. That plays out with their rather rollercoaster form, which has seen them win just two of their last five.

They are the only team to beat Real Madrid this season (twice) and they’re also 8th away from home in La Liga.

What to expect from the drawing board – Diego Simeone

Los Rojiblancos set up in a 3-5-2/5-3-2, normally headed by Alvaro Morata and Griezmann. The former has made the squad, but is unlikely to start, and one of Memphis Depay, Angel Correa or Marcos Llorente will partner the Frenchman. The latter made a surprise start there over the weekend against Las Palmas, and scored a brace in the process, but Memphis Depay has been averaging better than a goal per game in terms of goal contributions in 2024.

Behind them, captain Koke Resurreccion will be partnered by Rodrigo de Paul and likely Saul Niguez or Pablo Barrios. This has in part been their weakness this season, Atletico have struggled to control games when they need to, despite having so many players at the back. There are only a few of them that will naturally put their foot on the ball when the game needs slowed. Axel Witsel has been a surprisingly good central defender, and Mario Hermoso brings the ball out from the back, either side of Jose Maria Gimenez if he is fit.

The flanks are likely to be given to Samuel Lino on the left, an energetic Brazilian winger, and one of Nahuel Molina or Llorente, if he isn’t up front.

Players that might catch your eye

Watch out for Lino, who has been electric at his best, and is very hard to stop when he gets going. Quick and hard-working, he will try to get to the byline or cut in from the edge of the box to whip a shot or a cross in.

A stat to keep in mind

Two for one! Only Manchester City scored more goals in the group stages, and there is no pair more lethal in Europe than Morata and Griezmann. 47 goal contributions between them, Simone Inzaghi will be delighted that Morata isn’t fully fit for the first leg.

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