For the better part of the last decade, Juventus has seen a Spanish side as part of its four-team group to start out each Champions League campaign. A good portion of the time, it’s been one of La Liga’s Big 3 — Real Madrid, Barcelona or Atlético Madrid. On top of that, Spanish opposition has sometimes been the first team Juventus faces to begin each group stage.
That trend continues tonight.
Juventus has made the trip to Spain and the Wanda Metropolitano where it will face Atlético Madrid, the same team the Italian champions eliminated in wild fashion in last season’s round of 16. It’s quite the opposition to face to begin play in Group D regardless of the fact that Atletico manager Diego Simeone has fully admitted that his team needs time to adapt to its current situation after an eventful summer.
Although, as Simeone said, the same can apply to Juventus.
Two teams that have a lot of recent success in the Champions League are also two teams that find themselves in different kinds of transitions as group stage play gets underway. There are a lot of the same names that we saw when Juventus and Atlético Madrid faced one another in the Champions League Round of 16 six months ago. But there’s obvious changes going on — something that could very well equate to quite the interesting group stage opener tonight.
And, of course, there’s also the managing of expectations — which are going to be sky high as long as a certain somebody who wears the No. 7 jersey is around.
That’s something first-year manager Maurizio Sarri knows quite well, as he discussed at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday night:
“We are Juventus, and, for us, the objective is to win. We need to face these matches with absolute determination, but with weightlessness because we must also have fun.
“Atletico is one of the teams that can win the Champions League. With their characteristics, they can take on anyone.”
Hey, at the very least there won’t be those terrible lime green kits like Juventus wore the last time they were in the same group as Atlético Madrid. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.
When: Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019
Where: Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. local time in Spain, Italy and across Europe; 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom; 3 p.m. Eastern Time; 12 Noon Pacific Time
Juventus starting XI (4-3-3): Szczesny; Danilo, Bonucci, de Ligt, Alex Sandro; Khedira, Pjanic, Matuidi; Cuadrado, Higuain, Ronaldo
Juventus bench: Buffon, Demiral, Ramsey, Rabiot, Bentancur, Bernardeschi, Dybala
Atlético Madrid starting XI (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Lodi; Koke, Niguez, Thomas, Lemar; Diego Costa, Joao Felix
Atlético Madrid bench: Adan, Arias, Felipe, M Llorente, H Herrera, Vitolo, Correa
HOW TO WATCH
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