Atleti Aiming to Make Experience count

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Atletico Madrid take on RB Leipzig in Lisbon in the second quarter-final of this season's Champions League.

Diego Simeone giving instructions on the sideline

Atletico Madrid will be hoping their extra Champions League experience will see them over the line when they face RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Familiar Territory for Simeone’s Side

Atleti are no strangers to reaching the latter stages of Europe’s premier club competition, as they have progressed through to the last eight in five of the last seven years, twice going all the way to the final, only to lose on both occasions to city rivals Real Madrid.

The core of that squad is still together and they underlined their qualities in the last 16, ousting defending champions Liverpool thanks in no small part to a 3-2 victory at Anfield.

Leipzig were also impressive in seeing off English opposition in the previous round, as they overcame Tottenham 4-0 on aggregate, although they are in uncharted territory having made it through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

However, Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann believes his side can benefit from the tie being played over one leg in Lisbon, although the history books suggest they will be up against it, as Atleti have won their last three Champions League knockout ties against Bundesliga opposition.

Indeed, the only time Atleti have lost to German opposition in a knockout match in Europe’s premier club competition was when they were beaten in the 1974 final by Bayern Munich, so backing the Spaniards to win on Thursday at 5/4 could prove good value.

Leipzig Blunted by Werner Exit

Only Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund scored more goals in the Bundesliga than Leipzig this season, with the Red Bulls also netting in seven of their eight Champions League games to date.

However, a large proportion of those goals were scored by Timo Werner, who netted 34 times across all competitions, but he has since left the club, joining Chelsea in a deal worth around £54million.

That will severely blunt Leipzig’s attack and they were already coming up against one of the most feared defences in Europe, with Atleti having built a reputation under Simeone for keeping even the best attacks at bay.

Los Rojiblancos only conceded 27 goals in La Liga this season and have kept six clean sheets from their last 10 games to further underline their strength in defence, so backing an Atleti win to nil at 43/20 could be the way to go.

Morata the Man for the Big Occasion

Alvaro Morata has not always been a regular starter since joining Atleti from Chelsea in January 2019, but his goal record this season is still impressive, netting 16 in just 32 starts across all competitions.

The Spain international has a particular affinity with the Champions League knockout stages, scoring eight times during the latter stages of the competition since the start of the 2013-14 season, more than any other Spanish player over the same period.

One of those strikes came for Juventus in the 2015 final and backing Morata to score anytime at 17/10 on Thursday could be the way to go.

The 27-year-old is also available at 7/2 to score either the first or last goal of the contest, although it may prove a risk to back either of those, as it is unclear whether he or Diego Costa will start the match.

The winner of Thursday’s match in Lisbon will go on to play Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals next week after the French club left it very late before overcoming Atalanta 2-1 in their quarter-final tie on Wednesday.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Warren has been employed as a sport journalist for over two decades and as well as years of written experience, has also worked in other areas of the media including radio and television. Football has always been his number one passion, but has also commentated and written on a number of other sports including golf, cricket, tennis and rugby.
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