Sacchi: 'Boring' Atletico should have spent money changing their style

By Sports Desk April 07, 2022

Arrigo Sacchi labelled Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid as "boring" and says the Spanish club should have spent money on changing their style of play.

Atleti have become famed for their organised, defensive set-ups in their 11 years under Simeone, and those tactics were again on show in Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Manchester City.

Simeone's team failed to muster a single shot in the Champions League quarter-final first leg, making them the first side to do so in the competition since APOEL against Real Madrid in March 2012.

Indeed, since such data was first recorded from 2003-04, there have been only four instances of a side failing to register at least one shot in a single match.

Simeone's tactics have led to plenty of success over the past decade, however, with Atleti winning eight trophies – including last season's LaLiga – while also reaching the Champions League final twice.

While Sacchi respects what the Argentine has achieved, the coaching legend cannot get on board with Atleti's style of play.

"Simeone has achieved many results in recent years," Sacchi, who coached Atleti for a brief spell in 1998-99, told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"There is no doubt that his experience as a player in Italy has influenced him as a coach.

"First of all, don't concede goals and then let's see what happens, let's rely on the talent of some individuals and hope for the best.

"It's true that Atletico have quality elements, but instead of buying players and spending a lot of money, they should have spent the money on changing their style.

"Let's face it: this way of playing is boring for the audience. The fans ask for beauty, they ask for emotions. What emotion can there be in a long ball?"

Atleti have averaged 50 per cent possession in LaLiga this season, which is outside the top 40 among teams across Europe's top five leagues.

For comparison, Man City lead that metric with 68 per cent of the ball per game on average in the Premier League, followed by Atleti's domestic rivals Barcelona (65 per cent).

Atleti's 11,033 successful passes in the Spanish top flight this season, meanwhile, is only the eighth-most, placing them behind the likes of Real Sociedad (11,204) and Celta Vigo (11,653).

Despite his reservations regarding the way Atleti are coached, Sacchi acknowledged that Simeone's men still have a good chance of overcoming City in next week's return fixture on home soil.

"We must be honest, the tie between the Spaniards and City is still open. Anything could happen in the second leg," he said.

"Atletico didn't have a single shot on goal, that's true, but it's not like City had a lot. Apart from [Kevin] De Bruyne's goal, which was beautiful in its build-up and execution, I don't remember many scoring chances.

"It was a challenge for them so it wasn't fun. Atletico didn't want to play football, but City had a duty to do something more to overcome the wall."

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