Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich both made winning starts to this season’s Champions League. But their match at Atleti’s Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 28 should establish the favorite in Group D.
These two are also familiar foes after Atletico knocked Bayern out of last season’s tournament at the semi-final stage. In fact, there are old enemies everywhere, with Munich now managed by Carlo Ancelotti, who used to torment Atletico when he was in charge of Real Madrid.
Ancelotti’s Real beat Atleti in the 2014 final, and the Italian is a master at winning this tournament. He’s lifted the trophy three times, once with Los Blancos and twice with AC Milan. The Italian’s guidance, combined with an already loaded squad, makes Munich a strong contender to win this season’s tournament.
Strikers Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller are both match-winners, but Bayern’s real strength is in midfield. Xabi Alonso sprays passes from deep, Arturo Vidal tackles all over the pitch, while Thiago Alcantara provides the flair.
Of course, even the most talented attacking players often struggle to break Atletico down. Manager Diego Simeone has turned structured defending and playing on the break into an art form with the La Liga side.
Center-back Diego Godin leads a mean back five, while Koke is the jewel of a resourceful midfield. But Atletico win matches when cerebral and swift forward Antoine Griezmann is on form. The Frenchman is the best mover off the ball in Europe. Every run he makes puts him in a scoring position, and Griezmann can finish with either foot and even dominate in the air.
Date: Wednesday, September 28
Start Time: 2:45 p.m. ET
Location: Madrid, Spain
Stadium: Vicente Calderon
TV Info: N/A
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
Atleti had Bayern’s number in last season’s tournament. However, Ancelotti’s arrival can be enough to give the Bundesliga side the edge this time.
Don’t expect the visitors to fall into Simeone’s counter-attack trap the way they did under Pep Guardiola in the semi-final. A cagier, more ruthless performance can let Bayern gain their revenge.