Atletico Madrid travel to Russia this week to face Rubin Kazan, the team which ended the huge twenty one game winning streak Atleti were enjoying at Vicente Calderon. The 0-2 scoreline would suggest that the job is all but done for Kurban Berdyev’s team, but the current holders will not go down without a fight in this second leg.
Diego Simeone came in for some heavy criticism after last week’s defeat, when he sent goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo forward for a stoppage time corner with the score at 0-1. As I’m sure you’re all too aware, Rubin broke away from said corner to score a potentially decisive goal in the tie. It was a silly decision from the coach in hindsight, as even if Asenjo had scored, Rubin would still have been in the driving seat, courtesy of Karadeniz’s goal in the sixth minute. As it stands now, Simeone’s side have a mountain to climb in freezing conditions. The temperature is due to be around -5 degrees centigrade with a high chance of snow.
That first leg was a frustrating night for an Atletico team that dominated opposition who were reduced to ten men on the stroke of half time. Twenty one shots on goal and nine corners failed to bring the home support a goal to cheer, and Rubin secured a famous smash and grab win. It’s hard to imagine Atletico not scoring again, given the players at their disposal, but their away form is poor, and they may find it hard to break down the Rubin defence.
I’m not sure that Simeone will make many changes to the side that started last week’s first leg, as he will probably feel that they are good enough to put things right. So this will be the lineup for me:
Asenjo, Godin, Cata Diaz, Felipe, Juanfran, Suarez, Tiago, Arda Turan, Falcao, Cristian, Adrian
There is plenty of attacking talent in this lineup, with Arda, Cristian and Adrian Lopez more than capable of chipping in with a goal, and in Radamel Falcao, of course, they have a hattrick waiting to happen!
While Atleti are more than capable of scoring, I honestly think that second goal in the first leg is going to prove to be their undoing. It will be a long, tough evening in subzero conditions, and I think this is going to be the end of the road for Atletico. I really, really want to say that Falcao will score three and they’ll turn it round, but I just don’t think it will happen. I think they will win 2-1, but lose out 3-2 on aggregate.