Atlético Madrid will begin a seventh consecutive season of Champions League football at home, as Juventus come to town to kick off Group D action.
Diego Simeone and Maurizio Sarri will match wits in this battle of contrasting styles, as Atlético and Juve resume their emergent rivalry. These two teams met in the Round of 16 last season, where Atleti collapsed and blew a two-goal first leg lead. In Stockholm last month, Simeone’s men defeated the bianconeri 2-1 — João Félix starred and scored the winning goal.
Group D features three familiar rojiblanco foes and may be one of the most difficult groups. FiveThirtyEight predicts Atlético will go through — but just, with a 59 percent chance to advance. Starting off on the right foot will be essential.
Thomas Partey is back after muscular issues kept him out of Saturday’s loss at Real Sociedad. But Álvaro Morata’s absence is the big one — he’s not back training as he continues to recover from a knee sprain. Atlético face three games in seven days next week — perhaps Simeone keeping him out is the smart move.
Oblak; Trippier, Giménez, Savić, Lodi; Thomas, Saúl, Koke, Lemar; João Félix, Costa.
Predicted winner and scoreline
2-1 Atlético. “It’s difficult to prepare for Cristiano,” Simeone said at his press conference. “He’s a goal animal, he has tremendous records and generates danger anywhere near the area. He’s not easy to control, he has everything.”
Gulp. Both sides’ defensive frailties will be on display, and Atlético probably will not win if they fall behind here. Never a good idea to play catch-up to a team featuring Cristiano Ronaldo.
But there’s no arguing with Atleti’s Champions League home ledger under Simeone — 23 wins, five draws and just two losses to go along with a +46 goal difference. The rojiblancos are 5-1-1 at home in the Champions League since A Stadium Called Wanda opened, beat Juventus here last year and are working on a three-match clean sheet streak. I have a strangely good feeling about this one.
Jeremy’s record on the season: 3-0-1 (From now, I’m giving myself credit for correctly predicting the winner than correctly predicting the scoreline.)
How to watch
Date: Sept. 18, 2019
Location: Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Kickoff time: 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
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Available TV/streaming: MiTele, Movistar+ (Spain), Sky Sport Uno (Italy), DAZN (Germany), Match TV Football 2 (Russia), BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom), B/R Live, Univision NOW, fuboTV (United States), Eleven Sports 1 (Portugal), Canal+ Sport 2 Afrique (Ghana), TNT/TNT Go (Brazil)