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Atlético to face Inter Milan in tasty Champions League round of 16 tie

As group winners, Los Colchoneros will host the second leg.

UEFA Champions League 2023/24 Round of 16 Draw Photo by Kristian Skeie - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Atlético Madrid will battle Internazionale in the UEFA Champions League’s round of 16. The matchup was revealed during Monday afternoon’s draw at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland.

Atlético and Inter Milan had a 13 percent chance to be paired in the last 16, and the two sides have met only once before in a competitive match. That was the 2010 UEFA Super Cup in Monaco, where Atleti (the reigning Europa League winners) defeated Inter (the European Cup holders) at Stade Louis II behind second-half goals from José Antonio Reyes and Sergio Agüero.

Inter — another one of Diego Simeone’s former clubs — will host the first leg at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza (also known as San Siro) on Feb. 20, and Atlético will get the second leg at the Metropolitano on March 13. It’s a potential advantage for Atleti, and a reward for Los Rojiblancos winning Group E. Inter finished level on points with Real Sociedad in Group D but came second on goal difference.

Are Atlético favored to defeat Inter?

Simeone tends to be a bit deferential when he comes up against his former clubs — Inter, a club he has talked about as a potential future employer, will be no exception. But El Cholo is a competitive freak who wants to win above all else, and I think he'll have a good time motivating his Atlético players against last season’s beaten finalists.

Inter are leading Serie A by four points over Juventus and already have a massive plus-32 goal differential from just 16 games. The Nerazzurri’s sole loss in all competitions this season came at home against Sassuolo at the end of September. They’re a juggernaut, on pace to win a second Scudetto in four seasons.

Inter amplified its attacking firepower over the summer by adding one-time Atlético target Marcus Thuram on a free transfer. He’s combined with captain Lautaro Martínez (another former Atleti desire) to score 22 goals in Serie A — a partnership even more lethal than Atlético’s Antoine Griezmann - Álvaro Morata tandem. Inter also replaced goalkeeper André Onana beautifully, signing Bayern’s Yann Sommer for a fraction of the transfer fee it received for Onana from Manchester United.

Prior to the draw, Opta Analyst issued a power ranking that rated each of the teams that will play in the round of 16. In Opta’s estimation, the Inter-Atlético tie is one of the most evenly-matched that could have been drawn on Monday. I don’t think Atleti (fourth in LaLiga) will be favored against Serie A’s leaders, but having the second leg at home will help — it’s just that Los Rojiblancos will have to find a way to overcome their road woes and hang around in the first leg in Italy.

The complete Champions League draw (in case you missed it)

FC Copenhagen - Manchester City

FC Porto - Arsenal FC

RB Leipzig - Real Madrid

Paris SG - Real Sociedad

PSV Eindhoven - Borussia Dortmund

FC Internazionale Milano - Club Atlético de Madrid

SSC Napoli - FC Barcelona

SS Lazio - Bayern Munich