Atlético Madrid welcome AC Milan to the Metropolitano on Wednesday night, and the Spanish champions will be in the driver’s seat to snatch second place in Champions League Group B if they can pull out a win.
Atlético (four points) sit third entering play Wednesday, and Milan (one point) will need a victory plus a lot of help to get back into the qualification conversation. Stefano Pioli’s side lost 4-3 to Fiorentina in Serie A over the weekend, while Atleti regained defensive solidity in a 1-0 win over Osasuna on Saturday.
“The team’s essence is in its defensive component,” Diego Simeone said in Tuesday’s press conference. “The players’ talent improves the team’s performances. We will look to grow from our forward players (back to our defenders).”
Club captain Koke does not believe the squad has any nerves entering such an important match, and the colchoneros will rely on the Metropolitano support to guide them to their first home win of this Champions League campaign.
“No (there is no tension), there is enthusiasm and desire,” Koke told the media Tuesday. “We have absolute confidence that if we do certain things well, we can win the game.
“The fans never fail us, and they will never fail us.”
It is a weakened Milan squad that has made the trip to Spain. Though striker Zlatan Ibrahimović is available after missing the meeting at San Siro through injury, goalkeeper Mike Maignan and center-back Fikayo Tomori are among Pioli’s unavailable players.
Atlético will be without injured duo João Félix and Kieran Trippier, while Felipe Monteiro is suspended as Stefan Savić re-enters the team. Marcos Llorente is expected to start at right wing-back, and Antoine Griezmann is set to partner Luis Suárez in Simeone’s attack.
“João has had better moments, (such as) the beginning of the last LaLiga season,” Cholo said. “He was training with enthusiasm. We are waiting for the blow to heal and to let him train naturally so he can look for his place in the group.”
Atlético last hosted Milan at the Vicente Calderón in 2014, and ran out 4-1 winners to seal a place in that season’s Champions League quarterfinals.
Date Nov. 24, 2021
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
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 The AC Milan Offside