Wednesday (19.02.2014) in the Champions League is a day of looking into the future through the prism of the past. Take AC Milan vs. Atletico, for example. Two years ago it would’ve been a fixture that had Milan win written all over it. They were the Italian champions, battling for another scudetto with Juventus, who eventually ended their campaign with an Invincible status, they had the best centre back in the world – Thiago Silva and one of the best strikers – Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Atletico were then a fallen giant that didn’t stood still for almost a decade. They too had an impressive squad, but as always, they’ve struggled to achieve any sort of team cohesion. That’s why Diego Simeone, a legend of the club during his playing career, was brought in as a manager and by instilling values of aggression, work rate and teamwork he gave Atletico two trophies (Europa League in 2012 and Copa del Rey in 2013) and finished last season in a Champions League spot. Now, they’re fighting Real Madrid and Barcelona in a race for La Liga championship.
Meanwhile, Milan took a different path. Financial problems made life in Via Turati more difficult. Adriano Galliani, the club’s sport director decided to sell Silva and Ibrahimovic, bringing in players for no more than 10 million euros (with an exception of a certain Mario Balotelli, who was bought from Man City for 20 millions). Milan was always associated with champagne football, with big football stars, but now fans have to cope with the fact, that they have an ageing, average squad that lacks creativity. They have the highest average possession in Serie A, but in the last 12 games, they’ve only managed to score 1,54 goals per game, conceding almost the same amount – 1,46 goals per game.
Bringing back the lost charme to Milan
Former Milan manager Massimilliano Allegri was critised for being too defensive-minded and overall very passive, but this kind of football was a good shout for Champions League. Dropping deeper and using pace and power of Sulley Muntari, Kaka and Robinho midfield was better when playing against stronger opponents. Plus, Mario Balotelli had much more space to, as always, create something out of nothing. But it wasn’t enough to be a strong side in Serie A, when teams generally do focus on their defence whilst playing Milan.
That’s why Clarence Seedorf was brought in as a manager. Fans and directors hope that the Dutchman will be their own Diego Simeone, bringing Milan their lost charm. He indeed does set up his team more offensively, but that makes their games more open and leaves a lot of space for opponent to counter attack.
And Atletico loves a counter attack. Winning ball in the midfield and moving it swiftly into the opponent’s penalty area, where Diego Costa or David Villa awaits to put a final touch and send fans into raptures.
Free Football Prediction for this game
It’s hard to see a Milan win here, in those circumstances. BETEGY predicts that the game will end in and 1-1 draw. Milan does indeed play quite well in Champions League and their defensive perfomance against Ajax was a good example of how well they can play. Clarence Seedorf appears to be an open-minded coach who knows how to nullify an opponent whose main weapon is a counter-attack.
Atletico generally struggles when they have to be a dominant side and that might be the case this Wednesday. Plus, they have recently been hit by a run of poor results (three consecutive games lost until a 3-0 win against Valadollid), which might indicate fitness problems. The best bet for a draw (3.30) can be found at bet365. On the other hand, BETEGY suggest that there’s a 52% chance of Atletico scoring at least two goals, which, taking into account Milan’s creativity issues might mean that a good bet might be also an away win (2.35 at bet-at-home).