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Feyenoord Rotterdam - Atlético de Madrid: On the verge of qualification

Potentially, a season-defining game.

Atletico Madrid v Real Mallorca - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Atlético de Madrid on Tuesday can clinch a spot in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase — but only if Los Rojiblancos do the group stage double over reigning Dutch champions Feyenoord.

Group E is tight entering the penultimate matchday. Atlético Madrid (8 points) moved into first place after easing to a 6-0 victory over Celtic (1 point) three weeks ago, while Lazio (7 points) simultaneously ground out a 1-0 home win over Feyenoord (6 points) to go second.

A Feyenoord loss and a Celtic loss in Rome would secure last 16 places for Atlético and Lazio, with matchday six back at the Metropolitano serving as a showdown for top spot in the group.

“Feyenoord are a very tough team,” César Azpilicueta told MARCA. “We have to go out and play with clear ideas.”

Dutch EredivisieExcelsior Rotterdam v Feyenoord Rotterdam
Santiago Giménez has 16 goals across 13 games in the Eredivisie this season.
Photo by ANP via Getty Images

Feyenoord forward Santiago Giménez was serving a suspension during Atlético’s intense 3-2 win at the start of October. But the Mexico international is back now — and he warmed up for this game with a hat trick on Saturday, in a Rotterdam derby against Excelsior. That adds another dimension to the hosts’ attack and is a concern for Atlético’s defense, which has kept two clean sheets in three games.

“We know that we’ll be in the next round with a win, and when you have an opportunity like this, you shouldn’t let it pass you by,” Azpilicueta said.

Atlético have failed to win any of its past six away games in the Champions League. Its previous away win in the group stage came nearly two years ago — the 3-1 win over FC Porto in December 2021. Atleti have played twice on Dutch soil during the Diego Simeone era, both times against PSV Eindhoven; the first was a goalless draw in the first leg of the round of 16 tie in 2016, the other a 1-0 group stage win the following season.

“It’s important to try and play a great game, to know how difficult the rival will make things and to take the game to where we can do damage,” Simeone told the media on the eve of his 100th Champions League game as Atlético’s head coach.

Date Nov. 28, 2023

Location De Kuip, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST

Available TV/streaming Paramount+ (United States), Movistar Liga de Campeones 2 (Spain), TNT Sports 6 (United Kingdom)