As the clubs came out into the open during the second phase of Thursday night’s Champions League group stage draw, there were plenty of scenarios running through everybody’s minds. It could have been a somewhat favorable draw for Juventus, or it could have seen the Italian champions face the winningest club this competition has ever seen.
One by one they went, with Juventus
And, honestly, the first thought when Juve’s first Champions League opponent was revealed was a familiar one: What isn’t the Champions League without facing a team Juventus has seen in the recent past?
That’s exactly what’s happened once again. As clubs came and went, it was simply a process of elimination before there was only one true destination left for the second member of Group D, Atlético Madrid, who Juventus faced in the preseason late last month as well as in the Champions League Round of 16 just last season. Come the end of the draw — and most of the fluff that was meant to add to the suspense in between each pot being sorted out — Juventus saw Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow join Group D.
It seems like this group is the same kind of deal as we’ve felt about a good number of Juventus-involved draws lately — it could have been worse, it could have been a little better, but all in all I’m pretty OK with it all.
Atletico Madrid is the familiar face in the group. And it’s not just because Juventus has seen them in the Champions League within the last calendar year. There’s starting to become a good amount of history between the two clubs in Europe’s premier club competition now that Juve is a fixture in Pot 1 and Atléti has been one of Pot 2’s most formidable teams.
What this Atlético Madrid team, one that has seen plenty of roster movement over the last couple of months, looks like come their first meeting with Juventus remains to be seen. (You could also say the same thing about Juve because there’s the whole first-year manager thing and a lot of new annual salaries on the books to work its way into the starting lineup.)
As much as people will be tipping Leverkusen to be the sleeper in the group, Juventus and Atlético Madrid are the clear-cut top two teams that will be expected to progress out of Group D. And a lot of that expectation will include Juve finishing at the top of the group, too.