It Would’ve Been Great If Leicester Had Drawn Anyone But Atletico Madrid

Imagine how fascinating any matchup would’ve been other than Leicester City vs. Atletico Madrid.

There’s a statistic on the Leicester City vs. Atletico Madrid chalkboard that sticks out like Marc Albrighton’s foul on Antoine Griezmann. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given his isolation throughout the match, culminating in a 77th minute substitution, but Jamie Vardy, according to who you choose to believe, left the pitch with a pass completion percentage of 0.

He was oh for two according to the UEFA stat sheet (although both Opta and WhoScored are giving him credit for his clipped pass in the box that Riyad Mahrez could do nothing with). Regardless, the chief football writer for the Guardian believes Vardy might’ve achieved something special. 

Vardy was being supervised like he’d just had a dozen Skittles Vodkas and was puking on the bouncer’s shoes outside of Amnesia nightclub in Ibiza. He was denied entry and turned back into his own half.

But it didn’t have to be this way. If there's any conspiracy with regards to UEFA’s drawing of pingpong balls on March 17, it’s that conspicuously similar teams are going to knock each other out.

The underdogs were grouped together; the giants were pitted against each other. While Monaco is on the verge of out-Borussia Dortmunding Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid are also on the verge of out-Leicester Citying Leicester City.

Can you imagine how fascinating it would’ve been if things had worked out differently — if the attacking might of Monaco had been drawn against Leicester City’s pragmatism and thunderous counter?

I’m an idiot for saying this, but, contrary to everything that’s happened over the last year, Leicester City are done for. Atletico’s treatment of Vardy, in the home leg where the onus was on Atletico to attack, shows that Leicester has simply come up against their better half.

Leicester are like the old Wolverine in Logan, powerful but with faults. Atletico are X-24, the feral clone of Wolverine who impales Leicester City on a fallen tree. 

There’s no joy in this matchup for Leicester. For a hint of what could’ve been, compare Vardy’s contribution against Atletico to what he did against Liverpool in February.

Jamie Vardy vs. Atletico

Vardy's touches vs. Atletico. Via WhoScored.com

Jamie Vardy vs. Liverpool

Vardy's touches vs. Liverpool. Via WhoScored.com

Liverpool are a side that’s on track for the UCL next season. They play aggressively with a high press (or gegenpress/counter press if you’re into that sort of thing) — they want to take the ball from you in dangerous areas and drive forward in numbers immediately after.

This isn’t much different from the philosophy employed by Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Barcelona. But when a counter press has nothing to act in opposition to - Leicester simply don’t want the ball - it gets punished in situations where its players are schooled to get forward with urgency. It's a trap.

Jamie Vardy vs. Atletico

Vardy's positioning vs. Atletico. Via WhoScored.com

Jamie Vardy vs. Liverpool

Vardy's positioning vs. Liverpool. Via WhoScored.com

Basically, what I’m saying is that I was forced to watch the entirety of Leicester vs. Atletico while everyone else watched Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, and I pretended like I found it fascinating but it really sucked.

It didn’t have to be this way, but UEFAtletico — it's a conspiracy.

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