Atletico Madrid vs Manchester City | Wednesday 13th April 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Champions League favourites Man City travel to Spain with a one-goal advantage after breaking down this resilient Atletico Madrid defence in the 70th minute of the first leg.
Phil Foden’s perfectly-weighted through ball found Kevin de Bruyne, who fired past Jan Oblak. For as much as the 1-0 victory was deserved, it didn’t show how dominant City were for the 90 minutes.
Both sides had contrasting results at the weekend. City played out an entertaining 2-2 draw with Liverpool, while Atletico lost 1-0 to relegation-threatened Mallorca. And they can’t say they rested men to go full pelt for this second leg!
The fact City arrive at the Wanda Metropolitano means this tie is delicately poised and forces Diego Simeone’s side to attack at some point, although I doubt it’ll from the get-go.
Whichever way you look at this, I do think the visitors will have enough in the bag to deal with Atletico. I’m expecting this to be played in a similar pattern to the first leg, so the Draw/Man City outcome in the HT/FT market was of interest.
Simeone will want to keep it tight for as long as possible before going gung-ho and trying to level the tie on aggregate. But once they do that, they’ll have to take risks and leave themselves exposed. A side with the quality of City will pick them off, so that was the reason I’d lean towards that.
However, that’s just my supposition of how this could pan out. My first official bet focuses on the cards markets after the first leg ended in quite tempestuous fashion with four in the last 10 minutes, taking the match to five cautions in total.
Three of those went to Atletico players and I think we’ll see similar antics once again. They’re chasing the game, so will need to press high to try and win the ball back in City territory, which could leave them vulnerable to some of City’s slick passing, therefore committing a few fouls.
Looking at the data from the official UEFA site shows Atleti rank third in the competition for tackles (116), fifth for tackles won (49), second for fouls committed (120), sixth for yellows (20) and joint-top for red cards (3).
So, in the key metrics, they rank highly across the board, which puts cards top of the agenda. I’ll add in that this Man City side sit in eighth for fouls suffered (92), while Riyad Mahrez has been fouled 18 times and Jack Grealish 15.
In charge is German Daniel Siebert. A surprise appointment but UEFA seem to think he’s a capable official, although I have my doubts, especially in what is likely to be a pressure-cooker atmosphere.
The 37-year-old has shown 102 yellows and three reds in 29 games in all competitions (club and country). That includes Atleti’s 3-2 defeat against Liverpool in October, where Antoine Griezmann saw red.
Taking their above card tallies into account here’s a breakdown of those numbers in each game: 3, 1, 3, 6, 1, 3, 4, 2, 3. So, in six of their nine UCL matches, they’ve seen three or more cards and that trend is one I’m expecting to continue.
To boost the price, add in a Man City card for an appealing 20/21 play with Bet365. The Citizens have picked up at least one card in eight of their nine Champions League games – the 4-1 win against Club Brugge was the only game they didn’t.
Another avenue to explore in Siebert’s numbers is around cards shown to both sides. The German whistler has carded a player from either team in 25 of his 29 games in all competitions (86%).
With the card's theme running strong, I’m going to have half a point on an Atletico red card at 5/1 with Sky Bet. They’ve picked up six red cards in La Liga – only Getafe and Mallorca have had more (7) – and that’s on top of their 88 cautions.
Plus, Los Rojiblancos have picked up three in nine Champions League matches – one every three games, then the 5/1 might be a touch too big. The implied probability of those odds is nearly 17% rather than the 33% of the time it’s copped.
Both group games against City’s title rivals Liverpool saw Atleti reduced to ten. While it was Yannick Carrasco who also saw red against Porto. And that is something that could happen once more.
Siebert has shown five reds on the international or European club circuit since his last domestic sending-off, which was Bayern’s Corentin Tolisso in October 2020.
Since then, Sparta Prague’s Dominik Plechaty, Wales’ Harry Wilson, St Johnstone pair David Wotherspoon and Shaun Rooney, as well as Griezmann have all received their marching orders from the German arbiter.
If City do end up dictating this, frustrations could run high from the Spanish side. And if Grealish is on the pitch showboating, it’ll only send temperatures soaring. I think there’s a decent enough chance an Atleti player losses their head at some point and sees red.