Guillem Balague reassures Arsenal about Atletico Madrid weaknesses

The La Liga expert believes Arsenal should be optimistic about their prospects against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-finals

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger Photo: The Sport Review

Guillem Balague has offered Arsenal some hope of beating Atletico Madrid after listing some of the Spanish club’s weaknesses.

The Gunners were 5-3 winners against CSKA Moscow in the Europa League quarter-finals to book their place in the last-four draw.

Arsenal’s potential opponents were Ligue 1 side Marseille, Swiss outfit Red Bull Salzburg and Atletico.

The Gunners were handed the toughest possible draw after Arsene Wenger’s side were pitted against the two-time Champions League runners-up.

Atletico have established themselves as a top European club under Simeone after winning the Europa League in 2012 before losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League finals in 2013 and 2015.

Arsenal, on the other hand, have never won a European trophy under Wenger, although the north London side lost to Turkish side Galatasaray in the Uefa Cup final in 2000 before a 2-1 defeat by FC Barcelona in the Champions League final in Paris in 2006.

However, La Liga expert Balague believes Atletico have a number of weaknesses that should give Arsenal some reason for optimism.

“They have weaknesses as well – in the past that would have been a guarantee of victory, they have dropped points after going ahead, which would have been unheard of before, they are less impressive from set-pieces in both boxes, and showed against Sporting that now the squad has become smaller, players are becoming affected by injuries and tiredness,” Balague told Sky Sports.

“Thomas Partey is one of them, Costa is another who is going through some tests on Friday and seems like he will miss the weekend games, and so a lot has depended on Griezmann.

“He has improved with Costa next to him because he stretches defences, and he has had the best start to a calendar year of his career in terms of goals and influence on the team.

“For financial reasons, the club had to get rid of players and wages, and they go to Levante with only 13 players from the first-team at a crucial part of the season where you have to be sharp with players in front of goal, they may struggle with it. There are angles Arsenal can be positive about.”

Arsenal are in sixth spot in the Premier League table and 13 points adrift of Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur.

The Gunners have won the FA Cup in three of the past four seasons but haven’t challenged for the Premier League or Champions League titles.

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