Atletico Madrid begins its push for Champions League glory at home to Porto on Wednesday, as two teams unbeaten thus far in their campaigns go head-to-head in Group B.
Nestled in this season’s ‘Group of Death’ alongside Liverpool and AC Milan, the reigning champion of La Liga, in particular, is under pressure to advance.
How to Watch
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 15
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Venue: Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
TV: TUDNxtra 1
But following up that Spanish league title with more silverware this season will be no easy feat for Atleti, with transformed Barcelona and Real Madrid teams keeping up their pressure domestically.
The standards are similarly high in the European pool, pitting the club against three other teams that are each considered part of the royal lineage in their respective countries.
Like Diego Simeone’s side, Porto has yet to suffer defeat in the Primeira Liga this season, having won three and drawn two of its opening five games.
Sérgio Conceição’s side announced its return from the international break with a 1-1 draw at Sporting CP, where Luis Díaz earned a point thanks to his bending equalizer:
The Colombia winger is currently tied with Toni Martínez as the team’s top scorer this term with three goals to his name, and Atleti would be wise to keep watch over him in particular.
Martínez was sent off during the draw at Sporting but will be available for Conceição in Madrid, likely as a forward pairing alongside Mehdi Taremi.
Antoine Griezmann made his second Atletico debut in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Espanyol, where Thomas Lemar delighted his manager with a comeback winner in the ninth minute of injury time:
Wednesday will be Griezmann’s first Champions League outing in Atleti colors since March 2019 when they exited the last 16 at the hands of Juventus.
The World Cup winner looks likely to start up top alongside Luis Suárez, while Lemar will hope for a starting spot in midfield following his heroics off the bench against Espanyol.
Center-back Stefan Savić is otherwise the only absence for Atletico due to suspension, although Uruguay’s José María Giménez is no poor replacement should he deputize in defense.
Porto has won once in its three visits to Atletico, although the Dragons haven’t come up against Los Rojiblancos since they moved to the Wanda Metropolitano in 2017.
Simeone will hope his side is as inhospitable as possible on the field, with an early advantage in Group B likely to yield major benefits later on.
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