Arsenal vs Atletico Madrid: 3 Factors That Could Decide the Europa League Tie
The Gunners host the Rojiblancos in the semi-final first leg at The Emirates
The stage is set for the two heavyweights of European football to punch, at least to their weight. Both Atletico Madrid and Arsenal have failed to live up to the lofty expectations of their fans from across the globe.
The former failed to keep pace with the runaway leaders Barcelona and the latter were let down by unprecedented uncertainty, even by their standards. Yes, we speak of Arsene Wenger stepping down as manager at the end of the season. Yeah, that happened.
With both sides having failed to mount a serious challenge in any cup competition in their respective countries as well, all eyes associated with the two clubs will be firmly on the Emirates tonight.
Here are three factors that could affect the outcome of the tie:
#3 Atletico's paradoxical defensive record this season
The side from Madrid have built their reputation firmly on the foundation of their impressive defensive record. Under Diego Simeone, the Rojiblancos have become one of the most water-tight defences going around in world football.
It is a record that is reflected by their performances at home this season. Following the goalless draw with Real Betis in their last League fixture, Atletico have now gone 11 consecutive games without conceding a goal at the Wanda Metropolitano.
What the Spanish side hasn't been able to reconcile with their imperious home record is the one they have when they travel.
Atletico have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 8 games on the trot away from home. Even with one of the most talented men with gloves in world football at the moment in Jan Oblak in their ranks, they have struggled to replicate their defensive performances at home on the road.
What could decide the tie is which Atletico Madrid decides to show up. And with two legs in the semi-finals, we could get to witness the two extremes of their contrasting defensive displays.