The back half of the Champions League group stage is upon us — and Atlético Madrid have a lot of work to do to ensure knockout stage qualification for the fifth year running.
Atlético (1-0-2, 4th in Group B) welcome Club Brugge (3-0-0, 1st in Group B) to the Metropolitano on Wednesday night. The Colchoneros have practically no more room for error after back-to-back losses away from home — they have won only six of their past 22 Champions League games and have led for only five minutes across the three group games this year.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Atlético have a 42 percent chance to reach the knockouts, but at least the Rojiblancos might have a little momentum entering this match. Atleti held on for a 2-1 win against Girona on Saturday, while a rotated Brugge lost 2-0 at home to Westerlo.
“We played well the other day, but anything could happen to you at the end of the game,” Stefan Savić told the media on Tuesday. “In the end, we defended close to our penalty area because we needed to have the three points.”
Diego Simeone has tried different lineups in training this week, and local reports are indicating he has not yet settled on a preferred 11 for Wednesday night’s game. However, El Cholo’s defense has remained constant — Savić and José Giménez are expected to hold the line in central defense, while Nahuel Molina and Reinildo Mandava will man the full-back positions in a line of four.
Saúl Ñíguez has chances to start at left wing-back or in midfield next to Koke, but Simeone has worked with Thomas Lemar, Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Axel Witsel in the center of the pitch. Antoine Griezmann and Ángel Correa are expected to start at forward.
“We’re facing a Brugge team that plays very well. We saw it last week,” Simeone said Tuesday. “I see our players with a lot of enthusiasm and a desire to improve. ... We know how important this game is. We need to play well and give our best effort, and we need our fans.”
Date Oct. 12, 2022
Location Estadio Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 6:45 p.m. CET, 5:45 p.m. BST, 12:45 p.m. EST, 9:45 a.m. PST