Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich: Defences to dominate in heavyweight battle

Flawless - Carlo Ancelotti has won eight out of eight at Bayern Munich
Flawless - Carlo Ancelotti has won eight out of eight at Bayern Munich
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There's a repeat of last season's Champions League semi-final in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, and Kevin Hatchard expects a tense battle...

"Atletico have kept 19 clean sheets in their last 24 home games, while Bayern have let in just one goal all season."

Back No in the Both Teams To Score market at 1.814/5

Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich
Wednesday September 28, 19:45
Live on BT Sport

Atletico Madrid

After another heartbreaking Champions League final loss to bitter rivals Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone did a lot of soul-searching, but eventually El Cholo decided to stay with the club where he has developed a reputation as one of European football's top coaches. Draws with newly-promoted Alaves and Leganes didn't exactly make for the perfect start, but three wins and a creditable draw at Barcelona have given the domestic campaign a more encouraging sheen.

In the Champions League, Atletico started with a 1-0 win at Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven. Los Colchoneros were far from their best, and PSV were on the wrong end of some poor refereeing, but as is so often the case with Simeone's Atleti, they got the job done.

As Bayern found out last season in their 1-0 defeat at the Vicente Calderon (they eventually lost on away goals), Atletico are tough to beat in the Spanish capital. Atleti haven't been beaten at home in the Champions League for nearly a year, and they have kept five consecutive UCL clean sheets in front of their own fans. In all competitions, they have kept 19 clean sheets in their last 24 home games.

At the other end, French forward Antoine Griezmann remains the focal point. He has scored five goals in five league games, and it was his crucial goal at the Allianz Arena that dumped Bayern out of last season's Champions League. The likes of Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller have reason to be wary of Griezmann, after he helped France beat Germany in the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

Midfielder Augusto Fernandez will be out for half a year after damaging his knee at the weekend, while defender Jose Gimenez has a groin problem.

Bayern Munich

Carlo Ancelotti visited the Oktoberfest folk festival in Munich last week, bedecked in traditional lederhosen. The Italian did so as a record-breaking Bayern coach - no boss in the club's history has ever won his first eight competitive games. Those wins included a 5-0 demolition of Rostov on Matchday One.

When he replaced Pep Guardiola, the Italian said he didn't want to revolutionise the way Bayern played, but tactical tweaks appear to have paid off. Full-backs David Alaba and Philipp Lahm have been asked to stay wide, making them a constant threat in attack. In Ancelotti's preferred 4-3-3 formation, the wide forwards can tuck in, safe in the knowledge that Alaba and Lahm will be galloping outside them on the overlap. This change has particularly benefitted Franck Ribery, who railed against what he described as the micromanagement of the Guardiola era. Under Ancelotti, the 33-year-old has scored twice and set up five more goals in just five league games.

Bayern have a score to settle, and the weekend's dramatic 1-0 win at Hamburg showed they can come through tight games. Ribery came on to set up a late winner for Joshua Kimmich, while Xabi Alonso, Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng were all left out of the starting eleven. Mats Hummels picked up a knock to his knee in Hamburg, but has trained since, and could start alongside Germany team-mate Boateng for the first time as a Bayern player.

Match Odds

Last season Atletico concentrated on defence against Bayern at home, winning the first leg 1-0 with a brilliant individual goal from Saul Niguez. I don't think Simeone's outlook will be any different here - he will try to keep things tight and win the midfield battle, asking players like Griezmann to make the most of chances to attack when they arise.

Bayern have already won 2-0 at Borussia Dortmund in the German Supercup, and the spine of the team is incredibly strong. Manuel Neuer has conceded just one goal in eight games, Hummels, Boateng and Javi Martinez are all great centre-backs, Vidal, Alonso and Thiago have been superb in midfield, and Ribery has sparkled in the front three. Although chief goal-getter Robert Lewandowski has scored plenty of times this season, he hasn't been at his best in the past week, missing good chances against Hertha Berlin and Hamburg.

Not many teams get the better of Atleti in Madrid, but with the way Bayern are playing, I can't see Ancelotti's men losing. It'll be incredibly tight, so I'm backing the visitors Draw No Bet at 1.814/5. If the match is drawn, our stake is returned, but we win if Bayern win.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Unders is trading at 1.618/13, and that makes perfect sense. Atletico are rock-solid defensively, especially at home, while Bayern have only let in one goal all season. I like the idea of backing No in the Both Teams To Score market at 1.814/5. There's even an argument to back Under 1.5 Goals at 2.8815/8 - that bet has paid out in four of Atletico's last eight Champions League games.

Recommended Bets

Back No in the Both Teams To Score market at 1.814/5
Back Bayern Munich Draw No Bet at 1.814/5

Kevin Hatchard Champions League 2016-17 P/L (1 pt per bet)

Points Staked: 2

Points Returned: 4

P/L: +2.0 points

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