It is go time once again in the UEFA Champions League, as Atlético Madrid’s eighth straight appearance in the competition kicks off Wednesday night in Germany.
“We know our objectives, and the only way to get there is match-by-match,” Diego Simeone said Tuesday. “In football and in life, the day-to-day counts, the rest is purely fantasy.”
Atlético’s 2019/20 Champions League ended against another Bundesliga side, as RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams notched an 88th minute deflected winner in the quarterfinal matchup. Atleti will face more-familiar opposition on Wednesday, in the form of European champions Bayern Munich.
“We eliminated Liverpool (last season),” Koke said in his joint press conference with Simeone. “Now Bayern are coming off a great run of games, and we are going to play with the intention of winning.”
Though FiveThirtyEight’s model has given Atlético a 64 percent chance to progress to the knockout rounds, Group A will not be a straightforward sprint to first (or more likely, second) place. This is as big an early-season test for Los Colchoneros as one can find, while a talented RB Salzburg side isn’t here merely to make up the numbers. A matchday three flight to face Lokomotiv Moscow may not be a walk in the park, either.
“We do not look beyond the day-to-day,” Koke said. “We think about tomorrow, getting through the group stage and taking three points. It is useless to think (right now) that it will be a good Champions League campaign if we do not think about tomorrow first.”
This will be the first competitive match between these two sides since Dec. 2016, which was a Group D meeting. Bayern forward Robert Lewandowski scored the only goal in that match, and he also scored the Bavarians’ second goal in their 2-1 win (but 2-2 aggregate loss) to Atlético in the 2016 semifinal. Yannick Carrasco and Luis Suárez (as a Barcelona player) are the only current colchoneros in this squad to have scored against Die Roten.
The four Atlético de Madrid B players that were due to travel to Munich will not be part of the expedition due to an inconclusive PCR test result from a different B team member.— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) October 20, 2020
ℹ https://t.co/4OQ7CU8PD0 pic.twitter.com/nAKejtDFiw
Atlético are trying to avoid another mini-outbreak, and as such are taking only 18 players to an empty Allianz Arena. José Giménez is still easing his way back to fitness following his fight with COVID-19, while Saúl’s minor injury has not subsided. It’s shame we won’t get to see him do this again:
Meanwhile, Bayern star Serge Gnabry tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the game, along with the injured Leroy Sané.
Possible XI Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Savić, Lodi; Llorente, Koke, Torreira, Carrasco; Félix, Suárez.
Date Oct. 21, 2020
Location Allianz Arena, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
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 Bavarian Football Works
Available TV/streaming Movistar Liga de Campeones (Spain), Sky Sport 1 HD (Germany), ESPN Play Sur (Argentina), Optus Sport (Australia), Canal+ Sport 3 (Central African Republic), CCTV-5 (China), BT Sport ESPN (United Kingdom), CBS All Access (United States)