Group D in this season’s Champions League was supposed to be a closely-fought battle between Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich for top spot.
But Atleti made light work of finishing first. A 2-0 win against PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday night locked Bayern into second place, who had defeats to Madrid in September and to FK Rostov last night to blame.
Bayern could now meet Barcelona in the last-16. It really was crucial that they finished first.
Atleti beat them to that honour by winning each of the their group games. Diego Simeone’s team were at the their efficient best, scoring just seven goals but conceding only once.
No team will want to meet the Spaniards in the next round. Atletico have a chip on their shoulder, having been losing finalists in the tournament in 2014 and 2016, and boast an incredibly strong squad.
Antoine Griezmann leads the way, the Frenchman bagging his ninth goal of the season in last night’s victory over PSV.
The 25-year-old is desperate to win a major trophy, having lost in the Champions League final in May and the Euro 2016 final in July. Although he’s had a spectacular year, those two losses will count against him when the voting is made for the 2016 Ballon d’Or.
Griezmann's brilliant work rate
His desire was no more apparent than in last night’s game at the Vicente Calderon. After PSV cleared Yannick Carasco’s cross, the Dutch side broke forward with pace.
The ball was played through to the Gaston Pereiro, who was bearing down on goal with just Jan Oblak to beat.
But Griezmann sprinted back from his advanced position to put the PSV striker off just as he attempted to shot. The ball ended up falling tamely into Oblak’s hands.
The Atleti goalkeeper was clearly impressed. He clapped Griezmann’s efforts after the danger had passed.
Watch the video below.
It shows Griezmann’s brilliant attitude. How many of Europe’s best attackers would have sprinted close to 50 yards to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity? Not many.
Watch his goal, too.
He really is a special player.
Where does Antoine Griezmann rank among the best players in Europe? Let us know in the comments section below!