Some are quick to criticise a defensive style of football, but not Michael Laudrup, it seems.
At a Champions League promotional event for Heineken, the former Swansea manager told Marca that teams are entitled to play in the manner they choose. His comments came after Chelsea and Atletico Madrid drew 0-0 in their Champions League semifinal first leg while Real Madrid beat Bayern Munich 1-0 in their home leg.
“It’s up to everyone to play the way they see fit,” he told Marca. “The two Champions League semifinals panned out as I’d expected, particularly Atletico-Chelsea.”
The Blues and the Rojiblancos played out a cagey if unexciting draw at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, and while some may think ironically that Jose Mourinho “parked the bus” despite criticising other teams for a similar style, Laudrup said Chelsea fulfilled their goal.
“Chelsea set out not to concede — with a view to the second leg at home — and Atlético attacked while being wary not to concede either,” he said. “The outcome was a match with very, very little goalmouth action.”
Carlo Ancelotti’s side, however, captured a narrow victory over the Bavarian giants on a lightning-quick counterattack in the first half, Karim Benzema finishing off a move featuring beautiful work by Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao.
Laudrup praised Madrid’s ability on the break as superior to all others.
“Bayern came flying out of the blocks in the first 20 minutes,” he said. “But then Real went ahead from their first attack and had two fantastic chances to add to their lead through Ronaldo and [Angel] di María. Still, I think Real will be very happy with the result because they are the best counterattacking team in the world.”
The former Barcelona and Madrid star said with the ties poised so finely, any of the four teams could advance to the final in Lisbon.
“All four semi-finalists have got there on their own merits,” he said. “Atletico knocked out a very strong Barcelona side, while there has been a lot said about Chelsea, but Mourinho’s teams are always very competitive. Real and Bayern have both performed well, so I couldn’t say. What we do know for sure is that the final is going to feature two teams with somewhat different styles.”