Atletico Madrid's biggest test of the 2015 Champions League competition to date pits them against Benfica in the last game of the group stages. The side that wins the group will have the privilege of playing a team who finished second in their group, which means avoiding Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Although this doesn't mean automatic qualification into the last sixteen of the competition, it certainly increases your chances.
A draw would be enough for the Portuguese side to win the group even though both sides would have the same points and Atletico a better goal difference. This is the result of the rule that gives the advantage to the team who is more successful in direct competition with each other and Benfica beat Madrid in the Vicente Calderon.
In the last round of games, Atletico defeated Galatasaray while Benfica came back from two goals down to rescue a point away to FC Astana in Kazakstan.
A difficult opponent
Atletico Madrid currently boast the best defensive record in the biggest leagues in Europe with only six goals conceded in 13 fixtures. Benfica scored two of those six goals at the Calderon. You could say that Benfica have punished Atletico the most in an attacking sense and their quality can not be understated. It was not a case of Atletico playing poorly, but Rui Vitória's boys showed up to play on the occasion and that they certainly did by penalizing costly errors by Atletico players for the win.
Gaitan and his mates carried out several vertical counterattacks that really surprised Atletico's defensive line. Indeed, the Argentinian forward was the best player on the field. It would be not suprise to see Benfica play a similar style to the one they deployed at the Calderon: waiting for Atleti to push forward, and taking advantage of displaced Atletico defensive positions.
The Mattress Makers will attempt to keep another clean sheet with Jan Oblak between the posts, which would make it seven in a row, continuing down the road that sees them competitively placed in La Liga and the Champions League.
Changes from Saturday's team
At the press conference prior to the match, Simeone declared that he still has some doubts about tomorrow's starting XI. That would be the reason why he has included all available players in his squad with one facing the chop on match day. The manager refused to confirm whether Torres would start or not, which keeps the door open for Vietto to feature as the team's striker.
The Argentinian coach gave no clues about his chosen XI and we have little knowledge as to who will partner Gabi and Koke in midfield. Saul started the game against Granada but had to be taken off due to an early booking he received. Oliver Torres and Thomas Partey have played well in the last two games and could feature meaning Gabi or Koke get pushed into a more defensive midfield role.
Barring any last minute surprise, Carrasco and Griezmann would occupy the two wide forward positions and the defensive line should be the same as it always is. Thus, the 11 chose players would be: Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Filipe Luis; Saúl(?), Gabi, Koke; Griezmann, Carrasco, Torres(?).
In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Lucas, Filipe Luis, Siqueira, Juanfran, Gámez, Tiago, Thomas, Saúl, Gabi, Koke, Óliver, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Luciano Vietto and Torres.
Out: Jackson and Tiago (injury).