Atlético Madrid have been drawn in Group C in the opening round of the UEFA Champions League, alongside Premier League champions Chelsea, Italian side AS Roma and FK Qarabag, the first Azerbaijan team to grace this stage of the competition.
The draw was made on Thursday afternoon in Monaco, with the new format of placing teams in pots corresponding with their domestic performance as opposed to their Uefa coefficient ranking.
The draw will pit Atlético against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, current home of disgruntled former rojiblanco forward Diego Costa, who is longing for a return to the Spanish capital.
Only for Atleti’s summer transfer window ban Costa may have already made a return to Simeone’s squad, but Thursday’s draw will add an extra element of spice to the ongoing transfer negotiations.
Roma were the third team drawn out in Group C, and will also represent a stern challenge for Atlético when the sides square off later this year having pushed Juventus close in Serie A last season.
Qarabag made history on Wednesday when they became the first club from Azerbaijan to reach the group stages, seeing off the challenge of Copenhagen on away goals. The Baku-based team will have their work cut out for them though against three seasoned European campaigners.
Atlético will hope to sustain their recent Champions League performances as they welcome European football to their as-yet unfinished Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, and will look to improve on the near misses of recent years in the prestigious competition.