International Soccer

Mikel Arteta attends surprise match during weekend off

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta used his weekend off to return to Spain to watch Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid’s youth teams.

The Gunners were due to face Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday in one final Premier League match before the March international break, but this was postponed due to the Blues’ participation in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

This has afforded Arsenal an extended break given their last match was last on Tuesday March 12 at home to Porto in the Champions League and they will not play again until Sunday March 31 when they travel to Premier League title rivals Manchester City.

The Athletic report Arteta used some of his time off to go and watch Real Madrid and Atletico’s Juvenil A sides – managed by respective club legends Alvaro Arbeloa and Fernando Torres – face off at the former’s Valdebebas training base. Atletico ran out 2-0 winners.

Arteta’s Arsenal could face Real Madrid or Atletico later in this season’s Champions League. The Gunners have been drawn with Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, and the winner of that tie will face either Man City or Real Madrid.

UEFA Youth League - Play-offsAZ Alkmaar U19 v Atletico Madrid U19

Torres now coaches Atletico’s youth side / ANP/GettyImages

Atletico, meanwhile, are on the opposite side of the draw and will take on Borussia Dortmund in the last eight before a potential semi-final matchup with Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain.

Arsenal and Real Madrid have only played each other twice, with both matches coming in their Champions League last 16 tie in 2006 during the Gunners’ run to the final. Arsene Wenger’s side prevailed 1-0 on aggregate thanks to a sole Thierry Henry goal at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Like Real Madrid, there have only been two meetings between Arsenal and Atletico, which came during the semi-finals of the Europa League in 2018. The first leg at the Emirates Stadium ended 1-1 despite the visitors playing much of the game with ten men after Sime Vrsaljko’s early red card, with Antoine Griezmann cancelling out Alexandre Lacazette’s opener. Diego Costa then scored the only goal of the second leg back at the Estadio Metropolitano.

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