The Argentine took his team to the Etihad and set them up to line up behind the ball for most of the game. While City craved possession and made attempts to score, Atletico only sat back, frustrating the hosts and ballooning the ball at every chance.
The resolve of Simeone’s side was finally broken in the 70th minute, though, when Phil Foden found Kevin De Brunye with a penetrating pass. The Belgian calmly slot the ball past Jan Oblak to give the Cityzens a prized first-leg win.
Manchester City find way past Atletico Madrid’s wall
Despite struggling for much of the game, the quality of Manchester City’s bench helped them find a way past Atletico Madrid’s wall.
Guardiola had the luxury of bringing on Foden and Jack Grealish when he realised things weren't working with Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling. Those substitutions worked, with Foden producing the assist that led to the winner. For Atletico, though, the game plan was simply to defend, and once they conceded, they didn’t have the temperament to open up and play.
Diego Simeone’s tactics backfire
There are some similarities between how Atletico Madrid played in the Round of 16 against Manchester United and how they played against Manchester City. While they were daring in the latter game, they completely ceded possession to Guardiola’s team and made no attempt to even play.
The most disappointing statistic from Tuesday's game was that the Rojiblancos had zero shots on target. For a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, it's unacceptable for any team to play in this manner.
Simeone has often had his tactics right against better teams. However, this time they backfired, and Atletico stood no chance from the blast of the referee’s whistle.
"It was a difficult match, very difficult, against an extraordinary team; they are possibly the best team in the world, but we competed with humility," Simeone said after the game, as quoted by Marca.
Opening up on his tactics, Simeone said:
"We wanted a tight game and to come out on the counterattack. In the first half, we didn't manage to get out, even though they didn't have a shot on goal. In the second half, when we were more dangerous, they found a goal."
"It's the same way to look at a team that attacks very well. It's very difficult to go against a team like the one they have. Three good players go out, and then three better players come in."
Atletico have to deploy a different approach in the second leg, especially now that they are trailing on aggregate. Should they play the same way, though, Manchester City could have another successful night.