Like vs Like - Leicester-Atletico showdown
MADRID (AP) — Atletico Madrid and Leicester have a lot in common these days.
Relying on gritty defense and quick counterattacking, the teams meet at the Vicente Calderon Stadium today in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals.
"They remind us of the best Atleti," Atletico left back Filipe Luis said. "They have very good players. It's a solid team that defends very well."
Atletico made it to two Champions League finals in the last three seasons thanks to Diego Simeone's stout defense, one that allowed the team to successfully challenge the powerful attacks of teams such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Effective offense the other way secured Atletico the victories it needed to remain contending.
"Football is wonderful because no one is always right. There are different styles, different ways to play," Simeone said. "We have competed and contended in recent competitions and that allowed us to lay down a style. And maybe other teams have looked at us because of that."
Leicester showed a lot of the same qualities as Atletico when it stunned the world by winning the Premier League title last season under former coach Claudio Ranieri. Fierce defending, quick breakaways and precise finishes also kept it alive in its first Champions League campaign this season despite a struggling start.
"It's a huge compliment to be compared to Atletico," Leicester coach Craig Shakespeare said. "It's a nice comparison."
Leicester are trying to reach the top by using a similar formula that led the Spanish club to success.
"When I built Leicester, Atletico Madrid was one of the teams I watch. And I tried to compare Leicester to Atletico Madrid," Ranieri told British broadcaster Sky Sports on Monday. "Simeone is an Argentinian — born in Argentina, played in Italy. And Atletico Madrid play in an Italian style. It's very, very difficult: 4-4-2, very compact, very strong, straightaway go forward, high quality, high intensity.