After winning 4-2 in Leverkusen, Atleti have a fairly straightforward task at home in Madrid. Since that match, Bayer dismissed manager Roger Schmidt and appointed Tayfun Korkut, who has had only one match at the helm, which drew 1-1 with Werder Bremen.
Bayer will have to turn around this fixture without captain Lars Stindl and alternate striker Stefan Kiessling, both out with injuries. Luckily, they have two options who aren’t reliant on the run of play to create goals - Chicharito’s knack for getting on the end of stray balls in the box and Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s incredible dead ball skills. Couple that with very little expectations, and there’s an opportunity for Bayer to pull off a surprise.
Meanwhile, Antoine Griezmann has scored four in his last three, and an early goal in this one would almost surely put this tie to rest (we have to caveat ourselves for a while after Barca’s comeback…). Atleti have made the quarterfinals in each of the past four seasons and will be confident of doing so again.
Last season’s Champions League proved to be heartbreak again for Atletico as they were runners-up to rivals Real Madrid for the second time in three years. The momentum should continue for Atleti, however, as manager Diego Simeone has stayed put. Also committing themselves to the Vicente Calderon is star French forward Antoine Greizmann, who will be joined in attack with the formidable options of Fernando Torres, Kevin Gamiero, Saul, Yannick Carrasco and Nicolas Gaitan, among others. Combine that with a stern defense and Atletico Madrid are no longer relative surprise finalists, but one of the favorites. We’ll be treated to a matchup against Bayern, but with PSV Eindhoven and Rostov rounding out the group, Atleti should make it out comfortably.
Bayer are a mainstay in the top four of the Bundesliga, but have not made a deep run into the Champions League since they were runners-up in 2002. While a return to those heights is too ambitious for this squad, they are still dangerous enough to be playing late into the spring. Led by a rejuvenated Chicharito, who scored five goals in six Champions League appearances last year, and backed by a defense who only allowed 40 goals in the Bundesliga last season, this is a squad with the ability to take down some giants.
Was named player of the tournament at Euro 2016, scoring six goals and adding two assists in seven games.
The rock at the heart of Atleti's defense has played over 180 matches for Los Rojiblancos.
The former Manchester United striker's career was revived upon his arrival at Bayer, where he scored 26 goals in his first season.
A lethal free kick specialist, just watch the highlight video above.