Audi Cup: Final and Third Place Play-Off Preview

Audi Cup final and third place play off

Our football writer gives insight into the Audi Cup final and third place play off which takes place on Wednesday the 2nd August 2017. 

The Audi Cup semi-finals unfolded on Tuesday night with Liverpool thrashing Bayern Munich 3-0 and Atletico Madrid dramatically coming from behind to snatch a 2-1 victory over Napoli. This has set up a final between two teams with contrasting styles of play, an all-out attacking Liverpool and a defensively stubborn Atletico. Let’s predict who will claim the honours.

Wednesday 2 August

Atletico Madrid 16/10 | Draw 9/4 | Liverpool 16/10

Atletico Madrid
In spite of starting their preseason too late they were able to give Napoli a run for their money and score two late goals to seal a 2-1 victory to progress to the final. Their manager, Diego Simeone has to work with the same side he had last season due to the FIFA transfer ban which has been imposed on them and so far, that seem to be working in his favour because he knows every player’s capabilities.
Former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres who scored in their semi-final success will relish a chance to face his former team and his game reading skills will come in handy when Los Colchoneros needs to launch counter attacks. Atletico are a defensive minded team so their tactics will revolve around him and Antoine Griezmann getting behind the Liverpool defence that is expected to play a high line since the team plays Jurgen Klopp’s famous pressing game known as gegenpressing.

Atletico’s defensive tactics have worked wonders for them over the years but they can also prove very costly and in the previous game they managed to survive a scare since they conceded a penalty only to be rescued by goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Defending too deep also saw Diego Godin committing too many fouls under pressure and got sent off towards the end of the match for a second bookable offence.

Liverpool have had a fantastic preseason, defeating Crystal Palace and Leicester City to claim the Premier League Asia Trophy and now they have taken it a notch higher by drubbing the Audi Cup hosts Bayern Munch 3-0 in the semi-final. In the wake of an immaculate preseason Jurgen Klopp has made a very big statement that he is focused on winning the Premier League and his side has an ability to do that and this game will be one of those that give him an indication of how ready he is to challenge for top honours in the upcoming campaign.

The arrival of Mohamed Salah who has scored four goals in five matches has been has bolstered Liverpool’s attacking prowess and he seems to combine well with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firminho. Daniel Stturridge is also back and scoring and that will make team selectin very interesting. This attack will be tested against one of the best defences in the continent and if they manage to break it that would be a strong message to their Premier League and European opponents.

The defence will have to be very smart in terms of dealing with counter attacks and smart players like Yannick Carrasco, Griezmann, Torres and Saul Niguez to mention a few. Klopp did show some tactical flexibility against Bayern when he uncharacteristically used a low defensive block and that will make him unpredictable. I think Liverpool will lift the cup.
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Napoli 31/10 | Draw 31/10 | Bayern Munich 7/10

Bayern Munich
If the preseason results are anything to go by Carlo Ancelotti is battling to find his winning combination. Bayern have lost four of their six games so far and the teams looks like it lacks cohesion against other European big guns. The retirement of captain Philipp Lahm and veteran Xabi Alonso seems to have dealt them a terrible blow because the team now lacks experience.

Rafinha, Renato Sanches, James Rodriguez and Joshua Kimmich are settling in well but you can see that they haven’t enjoyed regular game time in recent seasons. They have also missed the injured Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng and the rested Arturo Vidal who featured in the FIFA Confederations Cup which concluded last month.

Napoli’s biggest problem over the years has been the inability to grind out results in big games. They threw away a 1-0 lead against Atletico to lose the match 2-1 towards the end and they failed to convert a first half penalty. The battle with the wounded hosts is really going to test Napoli’s attacking threat because in the semifinal they provided little in terms of goalmouth action.

Before they came to the competition, Napoli had smashed some lower division sides by huge scores beating Anaunia 17-0, Trento 7-1 and Carpi 4-1 but they drew 1-1 against Serie A side Chievo which speaks to their lack of big match temperament despite having quality players. With pride at stake and big match temperament being a factor Bayern will win.

Written by Benedict Ngwenya for

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