Two duels with European Cup holders Bayern Munich await Atlético Madrid in this year’s Champions League group stage (assuming COVID-19 doesn’t bring about any postponements or cancellations).
In addition, Atlético get to play Red Bull Salzburg (drawn from pot three) and Lokomotiv Moscow (pot four) to kick off the 2020/21 European campaign.
It’s yet another chance for Diego Simeone’s men to exorcise the many demons that have plagued them in the Champions League over the years. Atlético knocked out Liverpool during the 2019/20 edition, but RB Leipzig pulled a quarterfinal upset last month in Lisbon to halt another run for Atleti.
The official result of the #UCLdraw!— #UCLdraw (@ChampionsLeague) October 1, 2020
Most exciting group stage match? pic.twitter.com/d7ynuEjPq3
Simeone has overseen six trips to the knockout stage over his team’s seven previous Champions League qualifications. This includes five quarterfinal appearances and two showdowns with Real Madrid in the final.
Atlético last faced Bayern during the 2016/17 group stage, in which both sides recorded 1-0 home wins (Atleti won the group). Los Rojiblancos came up against Lokomotiv in the 2017/18 Europa League last 16 and in last season’s group stage — they have won all four meetings and have outscored the Russian side 12-1. There have been no previous meetings with Austrian Bundesliga winners Salzburg — which rang up 110 goals on the way to winning the domestic title in 2019/20.
This year’s group stage will begin on Oct. 20 and conclude on Dec. 9.
Meanwhile, Atlético came back down to earth on Wednesday night as Los Colchoneros followed up the season-opening 6-1 win over Granada with a goalless draw at Huesca.
Míchel’s side defended extremely well throughout the match and held Atleti to two shots on target, both in the second half. Luis Suárez took a difficult angle and saw his attempt saved on the hour, while Andrés Fernández made a clutch close-range stop on João Félix half an hour later. Felipe and substitute Koke saw chances missed and blocked within the final 15 minutes, as well.
Atlético had some tough luck in this match as evidenced by the team’s 1.79 expected goals mark, and Félix put in a terrific 90 minutes — the 20-year-old took 78 touches, attempted six shots and completed four dribbles. But overall, this was quite a poor display for the team. Huesca were barely troubled for large portions of the match as Atleti struggled to break through the middle of the pitch. Kieran Trippier took 90 touches and dictated the team’s second half offense, but his crosses weren’t accurate enough. Yannick Carrasco’s set piece delivery was excellent and he made four key passes, yet could not ring up an assist against the stingy hosts.
Simeone rotated a team that had had just two days’ rest and did not get a preseason together. However, this is the type of setup — away from home, against a bunkered defense — that has led to dropped points and weak challenges to the top two over the past few years. Atlético could find some space in what is expected to be a more-open against Villarreal on Saturday, prior to the first international break.
HUE XI: Fernández; López (Silva 72’), Pulido, Siovas, Galán; Seoane, Mosquera, Rico (Real 82’); Ferreiro (Gómez 82’), García (Ontiveros 69’), Okazaki (Rafa Mir 69’)
ATM XI: Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Hermoso, Lodi; Llorente (Carrasco 61’), Thomas, Saúl (Koke 75’), Vitolo (Correa 46’); Félix, Suárez (Costa 62’)