Atletico in danger of missing out


MADRID — Two years ago, Atletico Madrid came within a penalty shoot-out of winning the Champions League — now they risk failing to even reach the knock-out stages.

Atletico have only two points from their opening three games after being held to a draw by Qarabag — beaten 6-0 by Chelsea last month — who earned their first ever Champions League point.

The much vaunted strike force of Antoine Griezmann and Co toiled all night, and though Atletico should have had a late penalty when Fernando Torres was pushed, they deserved little more than a point against minnows who played the last 15 minutes with 10 men.

Atletico’s first half frustration can be summed up by their inability to feed Antoine Griezmann in dangerous areas, as his heat map from the first 45 minutes shows.

The first half was historic and memorable in one aspect — it was the first time Qarabag made it through the opening 45 minutes without conceding.

They managed it in relative comfort too, with Griezmann coming closest when he broke through, only for Ibrahim Sehic to pull off a smart save

Diego Simeone attempted to shuffle his attacking pack — going for 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 with Griezmann wide left — but they continued to offer little.

Torres was thrown on with 20 minutes to play, and should have won a penalty when shoved over as he prepared to head the ball into the gaping net with Sehic stranded.

A goal kick was given as the former Chelsea and Liverpool man headed over.

However Atletico still could not properly work Sehic, and now face a fight to reach the last 16, let alone win Group C.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone barks out instructions as his side struggled to break through
“I believe in these players and we’re capable of changing the group situation around,” Simeone told reporters after the game.

“We need to improve our finishing. Draws happen. We didn’t lose, but we couldn’t score despite playing well. We didn’t keep a cool head when we had our chances and they defended well. We couldn’t win, but we had enough chances to do so.”
Griezmann added: “We’ve still got three games to qualify and we’ll fight to the end.” — DailyMail