Diego Simeone and Pep Guardiola are two of the world's iconic football managers. One look at their name or their face and you can picture the football their teams play, which stylistically couldn't appear to be more different.
That clash of styles will take centerstage in the 2022 Champions League quarterfinals after Atletico Madrid and Manchester City were drawn together.
Diego Simeone is the man in black, football's antihero. His team is well-drilled, to the frustration of everyone they play against. Atletico are the game's biggest underdogs. They look to frustrate, harass, and harry. They're masters of the dark arts, and have enough talent to pounce on any mistake.
By comparison, Guardiola's team approaches the game differently. The Catalan, who is as likely to wear a knitted hoodie on the touchline as he is a suit, has built a team of supremely technical footballers who combine and rotate in perfect synchronicity, like a set of ballet dancers on a wind-up toy.
The narrative for the quarterfinal series writes itself: a team committed to defending against a team committed to attacking. Despite their differences, the managers are not dissimilar. They're both known to be detail-oriented, leaving no stone unturned in their preparation for games. And the fate of this series could hinge on the smallest of those margins.
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Both managers have been on scene for a while.
Guardiola has managed Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Man City since beginning his managerial career in 2007.
Simeone, meanwhile, managed a handful of clubs early in his coaching career before succeeding Gregorio Manzano at Atletico Madrid in December 2011.
Despite the pair having been at the top level of European football for over a decade, somewhat surprisingly they have only faced each other three times.
They last matched wits in the 2015-16 season in the Champions League semifinal when Simeone's Atletico Madrid eliminated Guardiola's Bayern Munich side.
|May 3, 2016||Champions LeagueSemifinal||Bayern Munich 2,Atletico Madrid 1|
|Apr 27, 2016||Champions LeagueSemifinal||Atletico Madrid 1,Bayern Munich 0|
|Feb 26, 2012||La Liga||Atletico Madrid 1,Barcelona 2|
All three matches were one-goal games, and Guardiola's team won two of them. At the helm of Barcelona, he beat Simeone when the latter was only two months into the Atletico Madrid job in 2012.
The 2022 quarterfinal will be the first time that Guardiola's Manchester City face Simeone's Atletico outfit.
Despite both their recent history of competing in Europe, this will be the first time that Man City and Atletico will meet in an official game. And this will only add to the sense of occasion around the series.
Atletico will be the eighth Spanish team that City have faced in the English side's history, with a mixed record so far.
Promisingly for Guardiola's side, however, their history against Spanish sides includes meeting Real Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 in the 2019-20 season. They won 2-1 in both the home and away legs, and will be looking to repeat that feat in the Spanish capital in this year's competition.
Here is how Manchester City have fared against Spanish opponents in European club competition (not all have come with Guardiola in charge):
Although they've never faced City, Atletico are no strangers to English opposition, having faced 10 English teams in their history. That's unsurprising with a lengthy history in European competitions.
The most memorable of these matchups includes a 2-1 win over Fulham in the 2009-10 Europa League final that saw the West London team take Atletico to extra time.
Manchester City have never won the Champions League. Although they have a history in European club competitions dating back to the late 1960s, they've yet to hoist the most prestigious trophy available.
They did lift the secondary Cup Winners' Cup in the 1969-70 season. Their 2-1 win over Gornik Zabrze is something the club hierarchy would certainly like to build upon, and that was one of the key reasons for hiring Guardiola.
Manchester City have been Champions League regulars for over a decade, making it out of the group stages every season since 2013-14, but their record has been ultimately disappointing. That record includes knockout eliminations at the hands of Lyon, Monaco, and Spurs.
Their best result in the Champions League came in the 2020-21 season, when they reached the final of the competition. They lost to Chelsea on the day, with Kai Havertz scoring the only goal of the game. But reaching the final was an improvement on previous years, and Guardiola will be planning for his side to go one step further this season.
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Although they've been finalists twice, Atletico Madrid have yet to win a Champions League trophy. The worst of it for Colchoneros supporters is that they lost to eternal derby rivals Real Madrid both times.
In the 2013-14 season they took the game to extra time before losing 4-1, while they went one further in 2015-16, losing 6-4 in a penalty-kick shootout.
Those two results came as part of a four-year run during which they were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid each season.
Since being knocked out in the semi finals by their rivals in the 2016-17 season, Simeone's side have disappointed, and this will be only the second time since then that they've reached the quarterfinals.
This is not to say that Atletico haven't enjoyed European success. Like their opponents, Atletico Madrid also lifted the secondary Cup Winners' Cup in the 1960s. It was their first European trophy but, unlike City, it wasn't their last.
Atletico have won the Europa League three times in recent years (2010, 2012, 2018).
After their extra-time win over Fulham in the 2009-10 season, they were back in the final two years later. In 2011-12 they had to go through a qualifying round to even enter the group stages of the Europa League, but they wound up winning the competition with a 3-0 win over fellow Spanish side Athletic Club in the final.
In the 2017-18 season they once again dropped down from the Champions League on their way to winning the Europa League, this time beating Marseille 3-0 in the final.
On all three occasions in which they've won the Europa League, they also won the ensuing UEFA Super Cup the following season. Each time they got the best of the Champions League winner.