One of the highlights of this year’s Champions League quarter-final is the all Spanish tie between current Primera División leaders, Atlético Madrid and second place and reigning champions Barcelona. Atlético have certainly been the surprise package this season both domestically and in Europe. With 7 games to go, Atlético lead the Catalans by 1 point and in what could be a title decider, the two meet at the Camp Nou on the last day of the season.
Looking ahead to the Champions League quarter final, we cast our eyes over the two team’s stats in the league this season to see what we can look forward to at the Camp Nou and what they can expect from each other. The first stat that we looked at seemed to indicate that Barcelona are far superior. The Catalans, as they have over the last 6 years or so, completely control every game that they play in and dominate possession whereas Atlético actually have fractionally less possession than their opponents.
This theory was turned on its head when we looked at the number of attacking events that each team is involved in per game. Incredibly, Atlético actually shade Barcelona in this regard.
Clearly, Atlético take full advantage of their possession and use it to attack whenever possible. The next question would be what difference is there when it comes to build up play? How do the two teams differ in this regard? Unsurprisingly and in line with the live ball possession stats, Barcelona play much more of a passing game than their Atlético counterparts. The men from the Vicente Calderón Stadium, on the other hand, prefer to rely on the individual skill of their star players like Diego Costa and Koke as well as hitting their opponents on the counter.
Now as this is a head-to-head preview, we looked at these two teams’ opponents play and this provided a very interesting insight. The majority of play by the opponents of Atlético is actually passing whereas the opponents of Barcelona seem to get away with individual play and counter attacks! This leads to what should be a very open and attacking game.
Finally, we looked at the number of shots that each team takes per game and saw that the Catalans are the more dangerous in this respect, taking more shots than the Atlético players. The contest between the Barca attackers and Atlético’s exciting young keeper, Thibault Courtois should also be something to take note of.
All in all, this should be a great game between two exciting and attacking minded teams and it would not surprise us if it was a game of many goals.
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