Tuesday night saw the return of the Champions League to our screens and what better way to start than with a clash of two high quality European giants in Roma and Atletico Madrid. Despite the game looking like one not to miss on paper, the game ended in a stalemate with both sides unable to break down resolute defences. Here's what we learned from Atletico's Champions League opener: Although Atletico didn't manage to win the game, they played some beautiful football throughout as they probed...
Although Atletico didn't manage to win the game, they played some beautiful football throughout as they probed Roma for a goal.
Rather than the dogged and determined style, usually associated with Simeone's side, Atletico seemed to play a more fluid game, with beautiful passing and possession football.
They also have the players in the team that can play a killer pass, with the side also looking especially dangerous on the counter. Such that when the Madrid side move into their new 70,000 seater Wanda Metropolitan stadium this weekend, fans can expect to see high quality beautiful football played.
On the night neither team was able to break the other down, with both sides having high quality and well organised defensive lines. Atletico did look the most likely to score and were dangerous on the counter attack especially, but were stopped by a Roma side that put everything on the line for their team.
Both teams clearly have bags of world class players in their squad and with a dominant-looking Chelsea also in the group, it's going to be very tight for those two qualification spots.
Throughout the game Atletico looked to their left back Filipe Luis to provide their width, despite playing a 4-4-2 formation. Despite Atletico having Koke on the left side of midfield Luis was willing and allowed to bomb up the left flank on numerous occasions.
Not only that but the Brazilian looked dangerous when he went forward, causing the Roma right back Bruno Peres all sorts of problems, while also playing some killer balls into the box to create some good chances for Atletico. As a result other teams in this group may well make tactical adjustments to either keep Luis out, or to exploit his attacking nature.
Although they weren't awful on the night, if you had to pick an area where Atletico could be exploited by other teams it would be in the central of midfield.
Elder statesman, Gabi partnered 24-year-old Thomas in central midfield on the night and although they did a good enough job, they looked fragile at times. In the first half particularly Radja Nainggolan and De Rossi had the pair beat all ends up and were dominating the midfield, in a period of the game where Roma could'be took the lead.
Roma also had Kevin Strootman in central midfield which helped win the battle over Gabi and Thomas. As a result other teams may also look to play three central midfielders, or target the centre of the pitch to attack Atletico from, seeing as they are so strong elsewhere.
Although Atletico did look the more likely to score on the night, they seemed to lack a real high quality striker to play alongside Griezmann. The Frenchman himself didn't have the best game by his standards, but his strike partner on the night, Vietto, looked slow and his finishing was lacking.
Atletico will face harder teams than Roma if they make it out of Group B and may well need Costa, after January if they are to score enough goals to go far in this competition.