GOAL

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games -

but ev­ery­thing that is hap­pen­ing to him is de­served be­cause he has never stopped work­ing and be­liev­ing in his own abil­ity.”

As if he, or any Atlético player, would ever be al­lowed to re­lax while Sime­one is in charge. Ditto for the Le­ices­ter play­ers. For all that Le­ices­ter Man­ager Clau­dio Ranieri comes across as an avun­cu­lar man, there is the same re­lent­less­ness from him as there is with Sime­one, and the same re­minders that no player is above the team. The hard work re­quired by this team-first ethic is not uni­ver­sally pop­u­lar, but Le­ices­ter and Atlético have to be ad­mired. They have thrown down the gaunt­let to much wealth­ier clubs.

Though ob­du­racy is ba­sic to Atlético’s game plans, they are nowhere close to the famed­cate­nac­ciode­fendin­gofIn­terMi­lan in the 1960s. Cate­nac­cio (bolt­ing the door) was thor­oughly de­fen­sive. The way that Atlético throt­tled the sup­pos­edly greater at­tack­ing tal­ents of Bay­ern this week was done on the front foot as they pressed Mu­nich back deep in their own half.

Later, with the goal in the bag, Atlético did re­vert to blan­ket de­fend­ing in front of their own penalty area, the same way that they had drawn the sting out of Barcelona in the quar­ter­fi­nals. On pa­per, Bay­ern still have the tal­ents (and the home record) to over­turn this loss in Mu­nich on Tues­day. But that has been said of the big guns in Eng­land against Le­ices­ter all sea­son long. And there is an­other sim­i­lar­ity be­tween the two clubs — the fact that both the English league lead­ers and Atlético line up in a 4-4-2 for­ma­tion that was viewed as out­moded in the mod­ern era. Some­how, they make it work.

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