Champions League preview: Atlético aims to block Man City's way, Chelsea faces Real challenge
Manchester, UK - The contrast between the coaching styles of Pep Guardiola and Diego Simeone could scarcely be greater but this clash of styles means Manchester City hosting Atlético Madrid on Tuesday is a fascinating Champions League quarter-final.
Premier League leader Man City has never won the biggest continental prize, repeatedly stumbling in the knock-out stages despite Guardiola assembling one of the most admired soccer units in the world.
Atlético has come a bit closer, losing two agonizing finals under Simeone to city rival Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016. It has also received plenty of plaudits, albeit for defensive organization and tactical discipline.
"[Simeone] is a master for the knockout stages," Guardiola told the City website.
"There are many games during the game, and he handles different types of games perfectly."
Atlético knocked out City's Manchester neighbor United in the last 16 by delivering an Old Trafford masterclass, snatching a 1-0 win on the counter-attack to triumph 2-1 on aggregate.
But a dominant first leg showed Simeone's team can also take the initiative when it wants to through attackers such as Antoine Griezmann and João Félix.
"We know they are one of the strongest teams in the Champions League," Atleti defender Stefan Savić said. "But I think we have the quality and strength to face this game against Manchester City and we will have our chances to go through."
Liverpool and Chelsea look forward after contrasting results
City's domestic challenger Liverpool kept up the pace with a 2-0 win over Watford on Saturday and is pursuing an unprecedented quadruple trophy season. Jürgen Klopp's side travels to Benfica on Tuesday.
"It's where we want to be, fighting for all competitions," said defender Joe Gomez. "We know it's going to be a big run-in, hopefully with us being successful in all of them."
Chelsea, who defeated City in last year's final, hosts record winner Real Madrid in the first leg on Wednesday while Bayern Munich visits Villarreal.
A 4-1 home defeat to Brentford shook the Blues, who are still operating under restrictions after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government due to his involvement with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted there is no need for "crazy stuff now ... We do what we need to do to prepare the next match as good as possible, it doesn't matter if it's [against] a big name or not such a big name, there are only tough matches out there for us in the last weeks of the season."
The quarter-final second legs are next week with the final relocated to Paris from St Petersburg on May 28.
Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / PA Images & NurPhoto