A draw against Juventus on Tuesday night could be enough to see Atlético Madrid clinch a place in the Champions League’s Round of 16.
Of course, three points secure knockout stage football, and a victory would present a serious opportunity for Atlético to finish atop Group D. One point would do the job only if the Lokomotiv Moscow-Bayer Leverkusen match in Russia ends in a draw. A win for either side in that match combined with a Rojiblanco draw or loss would leave qualification up in the air for the final matchday.
This is the second game of Atlético’s crucial three-games-in-eight-days stretch, which started with a somewhat undesirable 1-1 draw in Granada on Saturday. Diego Simeone now takes his team to Italy for another battle against Cristiano Ronaldo and the Serie A champions — Lionel Messi’s Barcelona will follow on Sunday.
Cholo’s first-choice central defenders remain out of the squad, but the coach will welcome back Saúl Ñíguez and Thomas Partey after the duo served suspensions over the weekend. A start for the now-healthy João Félix could be a game-time decision.
Juventus fell behind at Atalanta on Saturday, but Gonzalo Higuaín scored twice in eight minutes to turn the game around before Paulo Dybala added some stoppage-time sheen. Ronaldo did not play in the 3-1 win.
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Hermoso, Lodi; Thomas, Herrera, Saúl, Koke; Vitolo, Morata.
2-0 Juventus. This Atlético side cracked in Germany three weeks ago, throwing away a chance to qualify quickly and cleanly. That’s put Simeone’s men in a spot of bother. The mattress makers have a terrible history in Italy — just four wins from 14 and zero from five in Turin, including last season’s shattering 3-0 defeat in the last 16. Simeone has not overseen an away win since Oct. 1 in Moscow, and I doubt that run ends against archrival Ronaldo. Could be another long night here.
Fortunately, Atleti have the head-to-head advantage over both Leverkusen and Lokomotiv — a factoid that will grow even more important after these 90 minutes are up.
My record on the season: 9-9
How to watch
Date: Nov. 26, 2019
Location: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy
Kickoff time: 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
SB Nation opposition blog: Black & White & Read All Over
Available TV/streaming: Movistar+ (Spain), BT Sport Extra (United Kingdom), B/R Live, Univision NOW (United States), Sky Sport Uno (Italy), TeleClub Sport Live (Germany), Match TV Game (Russia), ESPN2 (Argentina), FOX Play Norte (Mexico), PPTV Sport (China)