The Gabi-Tiago pivot and elusive wizard Messi
The Calderón was back enjoying itself last night, following the pain of the weekend. Another win in Europe, cheers for El Cholo and the team through to the Last 16 as champions of their group even before the sixth and final MatchDay – away to Bayern - a game which, when the draw was made, looked ominous. Simeone reverted back to the Gabi-Tiago pivot paring in midfield, almost as though he had taken on board the wishes of. The captain; Koke moved over to one wing, Carrasco was on the opposite flank and Saúl took his turn to sit on the bench. Atlético kept a clean sheet and barely gave away any chances.
As for the attack, it wasn’t as productive as in the most recent outings but enough to deliver two goals, and it could have been more. Gameiro scored the first and was involved in the second, scored by Griezmann. The evening wasn’t without its upas and downs, but Atlético always looked in control. And, while he didn’t feature in either of the goals, Carrasco looked menacing throughout.
Likewise Barça also go through as champions of their group after beating Celtic in Glasgow. And once again, it was all down to Messi - a Messi camouflaged as a lost tourist playing deep in midfield before popping up in the box to slot in the opener. A Messi at full pelt, bobbing past the Celtic defence before doing his disappearing act only to resurface to slam home a penalty, then leap through a wild tackle... All of that with a relaxed, nonchalant air. None of his team mates played with such effortless ease. Not that it mattered much as Messi resolved everything; Neymar and Rakitic completed their cycles of yellow cards to ensure they go into the next round on a clean slate, and like Atleti, Barça too end topping their group with a game to spare.
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