Atletico Madrid will be desperate to get their UEFA Champions League 2022/23 campaign off to the best possible start when they welcome FC Porto at the magnificent Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on Wednesday night. Diego Simeone’s men are arriving to this clash on the back of a 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday while Porto got the better of Gil Vicente 2-0 in the Primeira Liga last weekend.
Atletico Madrid had reached the final of the UEFA Champions League in the 2015-16 season but they ended up losing on that occasion to cross-town rivals Real Madrid. They had also qualified for the semi-finals in the very next season of Europe’s most prestigious competition but have failed to make a sustainable impact on the competition since then and have fallen down the pecking order.
With that being said however, Los Rojiblancos have qualified for the quarter-finals in two of their last three campaigns in this competition, including last season, defeating Manchester United in the round of 16 before losing to Manchester City in the quarter-finals.
Atletico have been drawn in Group B of the Champions League alongside Porto, Club Brugge and Bayer Leverkusen. While they look like the early favourites to top the group, it could prove to be an exciting affair as all the sides in the group are capable of pulling off surprises, making any prediction worth a pinch of salt.
Simeone’s side have also had a difficult start to their 2022/23 La Liga campaign. With two victories, a draw as well as a defeat from their opening four matches, they have been left seventh in the standings. Atleti have scored five goals and have conceded thrice so far and last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad was another disappointing result for the Madrid-based side.
They will be looking for a different start in the Champions League. The Red and Whites actually faced Porto in the group stage of last season’s competition, drawing 0-0 at Wanda Metropolitano before winning 3-1 in the reverse fixture in Portugal.
Atletico Madrid also hold the upper hand in the head-to-head record between the two sides. They have three victories to two, with Porto’s two victories coming in the group stage of the 2009-10 competition.
The side from Portugal actually ended up finishing in the last eight of the 2020-21 Champions League, but they were knocked out in the group stages last season, after finishing third behind Liverpool and Atletico Madrid in a tough group, which saw them transfer to the Europa League, where they were eliminated in the round of 16 as well.
Porto, whose last success in the competition was an iconic one under Jose Mourinho in 2003-04, won their 30th domestic league title last season. They have also gotten off to a strong start this season as well and with 12 points from five games, they currently occupy the third spot in the table.
Although Sergio Conceicao’s side suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Rio Ave in the Primeira Liga at the end of August, they will be arriving here on the back of a win over Vicente Gil last Saturday. Porto will host Club Brugge in their next European fixture on September 13, and the team’s results against the Belgian club and Leverkusen could be crucial when it comes to their chances of making the knockout round.
ATM vs POR, UEFA Champions League 2022/23
Date: 8th September, 2022
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, Madrid
Atletico Madrid form (all competitions):
Porto form (all competitions):
Atletico Madrid wins: 3
Porto wins: 2
Atletico Madrid Team News:
Atletico Madrid are expected to miss several of their regular players for this clash. Felipe is out through suspension while Stefan Savic as well as new signing Sergio Reguilon are expected to miss the fixture due to injury.
There are doubts on the participation of Mateus Cunha and Thomas Lemar as well while new signing Nahuel Molina is expected to return to the starting XI after serving a domestic suspension.
During the league match with Real Sociedad, goalkeeper Jan Oblak had to be taken off after suffering a groin problem. While there’s a still chance he will be able to recover his fitness in time for this clash, it could also open the door for Ivo Grbic to start between the sticks.
Meanwhile, Alvaro Morata is expected to partner Joao Felix in the final third while Simeone is expected to stick to the usual pattern of subbing on Antoine Griezmann after the 60th-minute mark.
Porto Team News:
As far as Porto are concerned, Marko Grujic and Wilson Manafa will also miss the trip to Madrid because of injury. Besides those changes, the Portuguese have an otherwise fit squad at their disposal.
Head coach Conceicao could make changes from the XI that started against Gil Vicente in the league at the weekend, with Evanilson likely to return in the final third of the field.
Joao Mario could also feature at right-back, while Bruno Costa is likely to return in midfield, but David Carmo could drop to the bench for the European contest.
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Grbic; Gimenez, Witsel, Reinildo; Molina, Llorente, Koke, De Paul, Carrasco; Morata, Felix
Porto possible starting lineup:
D Costa; Mario, Pepe, Marcano, Wendell; Otavio, Uribe, B Costa; Pepe; Evanilson, Taremi
While both the sides are expected to take several jabs at goal, Atletico Madrid are sturdy in defence and especially at home, one will back them to succeed here. They haven’t exactly gotten off to a bright start in the league but have enough options on the pitch to secure a victory here at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.