Champions League preview: Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich

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There would have been a mutual groan at both clubs when Atletico Madrid were drawn with Bayern Munich in Group D.

Only Barcelona and Real Madrid have been stronger in Europe in recent years than this pair, who meet at the Vicente Calderon on Wednesday. 

Sportsmail looks a fixture that wouldn’t look out of place in the Cardiff final in June.

Atletico Madrid entertain Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday

Atletico Madrid entertain Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday

Bayern have won all five of their games in the Bundesliga so far this season

Bayern have won all five of their games in the Bundesliga so far this season

The Bayern form guide

For Bayern players who couldn’t keep up with Pep Guardiola’s tactical demands, Ancelotti’s arrival has been welcomed. Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng have found themselves back at the heart of the defence. 

The back four don’t play so high up the pitch so there is no need for the pace of a converted full back such as David Alaba in the centre of defence. 

BAYERN’S LAST FIVE GAMES 

Sep 9: Schalke (a, BUN) W 2-0

Sep 13: Rostov (h, CL) W 5-0

Sep 17: Ingolstadt (h, BUN) W 3-1

Sep 21: Hertha Berlin (h, BUN) W 3-0

Sep 24: Hamburg (a, BUN) W 1-0 

He has reverted to left back and if Joshua Kimmich plays it tends to be in midfield not as a defender.

Bayern are averaging almost four minutes per game less possession but it’s not stopping them winning matches. They have won five out of five in the Bundesliga and eight out of eight in total with a 27-1 goal difference. 

They are more direct than under Pep and Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller look like the players they were under Jupp Heynckes.

Carlo Ancelotti runs the rule over his Bayern players in training on Tuesday

Carlo Ancelotti runs the rule over his Bayern players in training on Tuesday

ATLETICO’S LAST FIVE GAMES

Sep 10: Celta Vigo (a, LIGA) W 4-0

Sep 13: PSV (a, CL) W 1-0

Sep 17: Sporting Gijon (h, LIGA) W 5-0

Sep 21: Barcelona (a, LIGA) D 1-1

Sep 25: Depotivo (h, LIGA) W 1-0 

The Atletico form guide

They remain very difficult to break down. 

Jan Oblak has only conceded two goals so far this season and no one has beaten them although with four wins and three draws it’s not quite the eight straight wins in all competitions that Bayern bring to the table. 

If there is a problem it’s up front where they have only scored more than once in a game on two occasions.

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak has only conceded two goals so far this season

Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak has only conceded two goals so far this season

What’s the history?

Atletico Madrid almost won the European Cup back in 1974 but Georg Schwarzenbeck equalized against the Spanish side in stoppage time and the Germans won the reply 4-0.

Revenge was served 42 years later – last season – when a brilliant solo goal from Saul Niguez helped Diego Simeone’s team into the final against Real Madrid. 

You might think Wednesday night will be a little more low key because it’s a group game. No chance. The Calderon has sold out and both sides know it will be key in topping the group.

Saul Niguez celebrates his goal against Bayern in the Champions League semi-final last term

Saul Niguez celebrates his goal against Bayern in the Champions League semi-final last term

How will they line up?

Fernando Torres is set to start for Atletico. The 32-year-old has been largely out of favour so far this season but he looks set to make his first start at home in the biggest game of the season so far. 

Elsewhere, Atletico will be as expected with Juanfran, Savic, Godin and Filipe Luis in front of keeper Oblak, and Saul, Gabi, Koke and Carrasco behind ‘El Nino’ and Griezmann. 

Douglas Costa is out for Bayern and Hummels will need a late test. They are expected to start with Lahm, Boateng, Javi Martinez and Alaba in front of Neuer. And with Thiago, Xabi Alonso and Aleix Vidal behind Muller, Lewandowski and Ribery.

Xabi Alonso should get a ‘warm’ welcome!

He is not the only one. Carlo Ancelotti and Paul Clement were in charge at Real Madrid in 2014 when Real Madrid grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat and left Simeone and his players in shreds in the Lisbon Champions League final.

Mats Hummels is an injury doubt for the German side ahead of the game in Spain

Mats Hummels is an injury doubt for the German side ahead of the game in Spain

How do Simeone and Ancelotti usually match up?

Old friends from Serie A, they met five times in Spain once Ancelotti had taken over at Real Madrid. Simeone came out as the winner on four occasions. 

That included a 4-0 victory in his second season… on Cristiano Ronaldo’s birthday.

The ‘fiesta’ was not cancelled and the after effects helped ensure Real Madrid ended the season in deep depression and without a trophy. Ancelotti was sacked but he will always have Lisbon. 

Beating Simeone in the game that mattered most will cross both managers’ minds tonight no doubt.

Atletico head coach Diego Simeone has beaten Ancelotti's teams four times out of five 

Atletico head coach Diego Simeone has beaten Ancelotti’s teams four times out of five 

Key men

Antoine Griezmann has five goals in five games and is starting to look like the complete striker. 

Against Barcelona in the league two weeks ago he did everything but score. He has the pace to run in behind teams, the touch to come deeper and hold the ball up for team-mates and he even beat Gerard Pique in the air in the draw with Luis Enrique’s side.

For Bayern, Lewandowski is in similar form with five in five and he’s another thriving under the more orthodox methods of Ancelotti.

Bayern’s most important player could be Vidal. The Chilean comes up against a solid midfield four for Atletico but if he can break ranks and support the front three he could be decisive.

Antoine Griezmann is Atletico's most dangerous threat at the Vicente Calderon

Antoine Griezmann is Atletico’s most dangerous threat at the Vicente Calderon

Is there a favourite?

Simeone’s side’s home form could be key. 

Atletico have won 25 of their last 30 home games in this competition – that’s why everyone you talk to at the Calderon privately insists they still fancy themselves in this competition more than in La Liga. 

Bayern have revenge on their minds however. Last season’s semi-final defeat should fire them up to at least take a point back to Munich.

German full back Philipp Lahm addresses the media at a Bayern press conference

German full back Philipp Lahm addresses the media at a Bayern press conference

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