Zidane says Atletico is good at more than just defending
ABS-CBN Sports on May 25, 2016 10:14 AM
Real Madrid Head coach Zinedine Zidane speaks during a press conference before a training session ahead of Saturday's Champions League soccer match final between Atletico de Madrid and Real Madrid, at the Valdebebas stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 24, 2016 . (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — There's more to Atletico Madrid than just a good defense.
Although it will be Real Madrid's powerful attack against Atletico Madrid's notoriously tough defensive setup on Saturday in the Champions League final, Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said his team will have to be prepared to play well on both sides of the field.
"It's one of these matches in which anything can happen, it will be very complicated." Zidane said Tuesday. "We are not talking about a team that only defends well. It's a very complete team. It knows how to play. It can create a lot of difficulty to the opponent when it has the ball."
Atletico made it to the final in Milan carried by Diego Simeone's trademark defense, but it also impressed with its strikers up front. Atletico scored two goals in the matches against Bayern Munich in the semifinals and three goals against defending champion Barcelona in the quarterfinals.
"We know that it's a team with great players all around," Real Madrid left back Marcelo said. "They have great strikers who have been scoring against everybody recently. We will have to be careful."
Real Madrid defender Pepe added: "It's unfair to highlight only one aspect of Atletico's game. They play well as a team."
Atletico's offense has been led by veteran striker Fernando Torres and 25-year-old Antoine Griezmann, the France forward who scored three goals in the team's last three Champions League matches. Griezmann scored seven of the team's 16 goals in the European tournament this season.
"The forwards came through when we needed to come through for the team," Griezmann said. "We have been playing well."
Real Madrid's offense has also thrived, and the team enters the final in Milan having scored 27 goals in 12 games, only three goals less than Bayern Munich.
Cristiano Ronaldo alone has 16 goals, one shy of the record for most goals he set in 2013-14.
But Zidane's squad also impressed on defense, conceding a tournament-low five goals, two less than Atletico.
"We have been playing well on defense and on offense," Real Madrid defensive midfielder Casemiro said. "It will be a good matchup."
Real Madrid defeated Atletico 4-1 in the 2014 Champions League final, a match in which it was trailing until the final minute of regulation time. But Atletico beat its crosstown rival 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium that last time the teams played against each other earlier this year. The teams drew 1-1 at the Vicente Calderon Stadium in October in their first Spanish league encounter of the season.
Real Madrid will be trying to win its 11th Champions League title, while Atletico is seeking its first.
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/tales-azzoni