Los Rojiblancos and die Roten both picked up wins on matchday one. However, Atletico Madrid really had to work to earn a 1-0 road victory against PSV Eindhoven. Bayern, by contrast cruised to a very comfortable 5-0 rout of Russian outfit Rostov – albeit it was billed as a “David vs. Goliath” clash from the very outset.
During Pep Guardiola’s three seasons in charge, Bayern failed to make it to the final. Curiously enough, the Bavarians were stopped by Spanish opposition each and every single time. First, it was Real Madrid. Then Guardiola’s former side, Barcelona, followed by Atletico Madrid last season. This time, with Carlo Ancelotti on the bench, the German powerhouse are looking to finally overcome their Spanish hoodoo. And it all starts with a grudge match against Los Rojiblancos this Wednesday.
In a curious case of déjà vu, the two sides meet yet again. Last time, Atleti ended Bayern’s dreams of making their first final since 2013 as they beat them 2-2 on away goals. Jan Oblak’s penalty save to deny Thomas Muller proved to be decisive. Unfortunately for Diego Simeone’s men, they went on to the final only to lose in heartbreaking fashion to Real Madrid. That marked the second time in just three seasons that Atletico Madrid had to settle for a runners-up spot, and it will be truly interesting to see how far they can go in the competition this time around. Back in 2014, they finally ended the “two-party” system in La Liga by winning the league title. They have made some reinforcements this summer, namely spending nearly €60 million on Nicolas Gaitan and Kevin Gamiero to bolster their attack.
Atletico Madrid come into this game still unbeaten across all competitions. Simeone’s troops held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw – which is never easy especially at the Camp Nou – and most recently earned a 1-0 scrappy win over Deportivo. However, Simeone had planned to rest some key players for the Deportivo tie and ended up having to bring both captain Gabi and Gameiro off the bench before Antoine Griezmann scored the game winner. Injuries have also hit the squad. Although Alessio Cerci’s absence is of little note, Simeone will have to make do without several key players and options, including Gimenez, Augusto Fernandez, Moya, and Tiago.
As for Bayern Munich, they have been predictably cruising along without much fuss. They did have to really work quite a bit against Hamburg, but surely with this huge game coming up, Ancelotti would have told his squad not to push themselves too much. So far, they have only conceded one goal. No, not just in the Bundesliga. Rather, that’s in all competitions. Ingolstadt so far are the only team to have scored against them. Still, Bayern, who welcomed Jerome Boateng and Arjen Robben back, could find it tricky to keep the likes of Antoine Griezmann – who tops the goal-scoring charts – and Fernando Torres at bay.
To date, Atletico Madrid have faced Bayern four times in European competition. And they have never scored more than one goal against them. Will that change on Wednesday? Or will Bayern exact revenge for ending their Champions League dreams last season?