It’s another big one tonight in the Champions League! Atletico Madrid host Juventus at the Wanda Metropolitano for the Group D opener. Can Cristiano Ronaldo punish the Rojiblancos again? Here are the Three Keys for this huge encounter. Bet on the Champions League here.
Jan Oblak v Cristiano Ronaldo
Atletico Madrid’s success over the last few seasons, orchestrated by Diego Simeone, has been underpinned by a resilient defence. Their goalkeeper, Jan Oblak, has been the bedrock of that impregnable defence. In fact, he has won the last four La Liga Golden Gloves awards. However, against Juventus, he’ll be facing one of the best attacking teams in Europe led by their tormenter in chief Cristiano Ronaldo. The Slovenian has kept four clean sheets in his last six Champions League matches. Can he be breached tonight?
Ronaldo repeatedly inflicted misery on Atletico during his time at Real Madrid. There are few greater rivalries between an opposing player and club than Ronaldo’s with Atletico. Last season, he singlehandedly eliminated Atletico in the Champions League by scoring a hat-trick in the Round of 16 second leg. He has also scored seven goals in eight matches against Rojiblancos in European competitions. Can Oblak and his team stop the Portuguese forward?
Diego Simeone v Maurizio Sarri
Simeone has come close to winning the highly coveted Champions League title twice, in 2014 and 2016. He’s got the experience in this competition. However, since the 2016 final, his team has changed a lot and went through a considerable overhaul this past summer. In spite of that, he has a few experienced players like Koke, Saul Niguez, Jan Oblak and Jose Gimenez, who could be crucial when they play the Italians tonight. His pragmatic approach to the game has brought him great success in the last few seasons including the 2013/2014 La Liga. His team has been a difficult opponent to play against due to their defensive solidity. Can the Bianconeri get a rare win over Simeone away from home?
Maurizio Sarri lifted the Europa League last season with Chelsea before heading to Juventus. The Italian has not tasted much glory in the Champions League, although his high-intensity attack-minded philosophy has brought him success at Napoli and Chelsea. However, the predictability of his style has always been his downfall in big matches. At Juventus he has a world-class squad with ridiculous depth. He’ll be facing a team which is equipped to stifle them.
Atletico’s Defence v Juventus attack
The days of Diego Godin and Gimenez are gone at Atletico. An almost entirely different backline is taking shape, in which Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi occupy the fullback positions. In their four La Liga matches this season, they’ve kept two clean sheets and conceded four goals. In their last five Champions League games, they have kept four clean sheets. Juventus will have to do much more to breach Atletico at Wanda Metropolitano.
The Bianconeri have not won the tournament in 23 years. A few seasons ago, they made it to the final twice but just couldn’t get over the line. This season, they have a team that can challenge for the trophy again. They have failed to score in their last two matches against Atletico away from home. Against a defensive juggernaut like Atletico, Ronaldo and company will have to be clinical since it looks like it will be a cagey affair with few chances in between.