Verdict: Home win
Finest chances: 3/5
The Champions League season finally begins this week, and at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday night, Atletico Madrid will be playing host to FC Porto in the opening round of Group B. At the exact same time, the memories of the 2005 and 2007 finals will be revitalized with Liverpool welcoming Air Conditioner Milan to Anfield in the other match of the group.
Atletico Madrid broke the reign of Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spanish football at the end of 2020-21, being likewise the last team to have actually done that in the past, when they took the La Liga crown in 2014. It was an exciting race right to the finish line, when the Rojiblancos required a win away to Valladolid to secure the title. Remarkably enough, it was former Barcelona (and Liverpool) striker Luis Suarez who delivered the decisive blow, scoring the winner in the 67th minute, 10 minutes after Angel Correa canceled out Oscar Plano’s 18th-minute opener.
There were some substantial transfers over the summer including Atletico. Most notably, Antoine Griezmann has actually gone back to the club following a two-year spell with Barcelona, while midfielder Saul Niguez signed up with Chelsea on loan. Midfielder Rodrigo de Paul showed up from Udinese, as did 22-year-old forward Matheus Cunha from Hertha Berlin.
At the minute, Atletico are in 3rd place in La Liga with 10 points from four games, the same tally as Real Madrid and Valencia who inhabit the 2 leading areas. Real Sociedad are 4th with nine.
Diego Simeone’s team started the season by beating Celta Vigo away by 1-2. Then they beat Elche in your home by 1-0, and played the only draw, 2-2 in your home versus Europa League holders Villarreal, prior to winning 1-2 away to Espanyol.
Simeone has no injury issues at the minute, however defender Stefan Savic is suspended following the red card he got and the foul language he apparently utilized towards an official in the defeat to Chelsea in the round of 16 last term.
Thomas Lemar could start this match following a fine performance in the 2nd half of the win over Espanyol. Jose Gimenez is likely to come into the lineup in the location of Savic at the back, with Griezmann and Suarez the obvious choice upfront.
On the other hand, Porto completed second in the Primeira Liga last season, 5 points behind champions Sporting Lisbon. They’ll certainly be wanting to regain the title this term, but at the minute, they are in 4th place with 11 point from 5 matches to their name. Benfica (15 ), Estoril Praia (13) and Sporting (likewise 11) are all ahead.
Sergio Conceicao’s team started the league project with a 2-0 victory in the house over B-SAD, followed by a 1-2 accomplishment away to Famalicao. Then they drew 1-1 away to Maritimo and smashed Arouca at home by 3-0, before drawing 2-2 in a highly exciting match versus Sporting in Lisbon, in which Luis Diaz cancelled out Nuno Santos’ opener and striker Toni Martinez got a red card late on.
This summer season, Porto signed winger Pepe from Gremio, midfielder Marko Grujic on loan from Liverpool with an alternative to buy, left-back Wendell from Bayer Leverkusen, midfielder Bruno Costa from Portimonense, and centre-back Fabio Cardoso from Santa Clara.
Midfielder Danilo Perreira left to join Paris Saint-Germain, and striker Moussa Marega made the most of his agreement ending and carried on to Saudi side Hilal.
Porto got one step even more than Atletico in last season’s edition of UEFA’s elite club competitors, though they were gotten rid of in the quarterfinals by the same opponent– eventual winners Chelsea.
Goalkeeper Marchesin is out, having had surgical treatment on a major knee issue, that makes 21-year-old Diogo Costa nailed on to start.
Left-back Zaidu played in the first 2 games of the season, however then he was strongly pursued by Fenerbahce and Porto reportedly blocked his relocate to Turkey on Deadline Day. He hasn’t played since, and it stays to be seen if he’s included in the squad for the journey to Madrid.
Much will most likely depend on Otavio, who was related to Liverpool at one point during the summer season however the Merseysiders never followed up on the reported interest. The 26-year-old is anticipated to pull the strings for the Portuguese side from his position as a main attacking midfielder.
Mehdi Taremi, with one goal and one helps in 5 games this season so far, is set to lead the line once again.
With all due regard to Porto, they’re most likely to find themselves dealing with a challenger too powerful at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Decision: Home win
Best chances: 3/5