Madrid advance as Atleti, Barça, Sevilla and Villarreal are made to sweat
As was anticipated, Real Madrid secured revenge on the somewhat 'exotic' FC Sheriff, with the Moldovan champions winning over many neutrals in this, their first time competing in the Champions League group stage. In yesterday's editorial article, I focused on this campaign being far from convincing for the five Spanish sides and this is now confirmed with just one club automatically through to the Round of 16. Atleti were the latest side to mess things up as they conceded a late goal to AC Milan in a game where Simeone's men failed to impress from the off and now have to travel to Porto and secure a positive result to advance.
It was the visitors from Milan who grabbed the initiative at the Metropolitano with the Serie A side propping up Group B going into the game on their first return to the Champions League in some while. Pioli was astute in getting his tactics right with a solid rear guard which kept Atleti at bay with the Italian side clever with the ball with Brahim always a source of danger. Despite being comfortable, the Milanese side looked toothless upfront and created little of major danger to trouble Jan Oblak in the first half.
Atleti were the sharper side after the interval and two efforts from Lemar and Carrasco excited the crowd on a freezing evening in the Spanish capital. This was a flash-in-the-pan sadly as Atlético failed to grasp the initiative with the players unable to rise to the occasion as Milan started to grow into the half. With the clock ticking towards the 90 minute mark, Kessie crossed and Messias nodded home to the delight of the traveling 'tifosi'. The goal has really complicated matters for 'Los Colchoneros' who now need to travel to Porto and win by one more goal (should Milan beat Liverpool), a far from easy task.
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