One of the unsung heroes and architects of the recent successes of Atlético is 'Profe Ortega' and people are starting to take notice. The physical coach of the Madrid side is the one responsible for the enviable physical levels of the team at this late stage of the season and the data reflects this in recent games. Against Barcelona, Simeone's men covered 12 kilometres more than those of Luis Enrique, 114.6 against 102,6.
The midfield that was set up by the Argentine coach, Simeone, must have felt like an almost insurmountable wall for the league leaders and Gabi (11.8), Augustus (11.4), Koke (12.2) and Saul (12.1) all left the field after easily surpassing 10 km in distance covered. Also above this line was Griezmann (11.4) and Juanfran (9.9) just a counter-attack short.
From the visting side, only Jordi Alba (10.9), Busquets (11.0) and Iniesta (10.2) exceeded 10,000 metres, while Messi with just seven kilometres was the player noted as covering the least of the starting outfield players. Barça's average distance covered as a team in this season's Champions League had been just over 106 kilometres per game, a figure which dropped significantly in their final run-out at the Calderón.
Now clearly the analysis of distance covered by two teams in one game is not enough to give a complete picture and it was Barcelona who dominated possession. They were in control of the ball 72% of the 58 minutes that it was "in play". Having more of the ball - and certainly when it's this significant - tends to result in running less and the successful pass stats (118 Atlético; 591 Barça) support this. The key to this game was the effectiveness of Atlético who took advantage of their 28% to get off six shot against the four of their opponents.
Whether or not the work-rate of the Rojiblancos was the deciding factor in the successful progression to the semi-finals, the physical element of this squad will be something that Bayern, City and Real Madrid will be mindful of if they are to meet. And Profe Ortega will need to keep his magic going for a few weeks longer.
Metres covered by player
Ter Stegen 4,603
Luis Suárez 9,130
Sergi Roberto 3,674
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