BILBAO, Spain — Atletico Madrid’s Champions League preparation could not have been much worse. Along with significant player turnover, they went into their quarter-final tie with Barcelona without six of their first-team players who had tested positive for COVID-19. On top of all that, they couldn’t field star striker Ludmila due to a yellow card suspension. But in spite of all this, they put up a real fight and were only undone by a scrappy Kheira Hamraoui strike in the 80th minute.
Dani Gonzalez lined his side up in a defensive 4-4-2 that was more of a 4-2-3-1 when they attacked, with the key difference being Angela Sosa playing more of a free role offensively behind lone striker Toni Duggan. When Barcelona tried to build out from the back, Sosa covered their base midfielder, Hamraoui, while Atletico sought to defend their own half.
Barcelona dominated possession, but weren’t able to use it and create clear chances on a consistent basis. Their center-backs enjoyed a 2-versus-1 on Duggan which gave them plenty of time and space to drive forward with the ball but, with Hamraoui often well covered by Sosa, Barca’s possession mostly ended up in non-threatening wide areas…
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