Atletico Madrid will be looking for revenge against Club Brugge when they welcome the Belgian giants to Wanda Metropolitano in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
Club Brugge recorded a 2-0 victory when the pair locked horns last week, with the result leaving Carl Hoefkens’s side top of Group B on nine points, while Atletico are bottom of the section on three points.
When the draw for Group B was made, Atletico would have fancied their chances of topping the section, but there is no getting away from the fact that it has been a struggle for Diego Simeone’s side thus far.
The Red and Whites opened their 2022-23 campaign with a 2-1 victory over Porto on September 7, but they have lost their last two, both 2-0, on the road to Bayer Leverkusen and Club Brugge, which has left them bottom of Group B with just three points to show for their efforts.
It is not quite panic stations for Atletico, as they are level on points with Porto in second, but another poor result on Wednesday would leave them in a difficult position, and their absence from the knockout round of the competition would be a surprise considering their pedigree.
The Madrid giants have not failed to make it through the group stage since the 2017-18 campaign, reaching the round of 16 three times and the quarter-finals in their last four participations.
Simeone’s team will enter this match off the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over Girona in La Liga on Saturday, with Angel Correa scoring twice for the hosts, who sit fourth in the table on 16 points, six points behind the leaders Barcelona after eight matches.
Club Brugge have not put a foot wrong in this season’s Champions League, opening their 2022-23 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen before thumping Porto 4-0 in Portugal one week later.
The 2-0 success over Atletico last week, which came courtesy of goals from Kamal Sowah and Ferran Jutgla, moved the Belgian side onto nine points in Group B, leaving them six points clear of second-placed Porto.
Club Brugge, who are yet to concede a goal in the group stage, have been regulars at this stage of the European Cup in recent years, but they have been unable to make the step into the knockout round.
Hoefkens’s side will know that they are not quite there in terms of progression, but even a defeat on Wednesday would leave them in a strong position ahead of their final two games against Porto and Bayer Leverkusen, which will take place on October 26 and November 1 respectively.
Blauw-Zwart will actually enter this match off the back of a home domestic defeat, going down 2-0 to Westerlo in the league on Saturday, and the result has left them in third spot in the table, boasting 22 points from 11 matches, with Antwerp eight points clear of their rivals at the summit.
Atletico will again be missing Sergio Reguilon, Marcos Llorente and Felipe on Wednesday night through injury, but the home side are otherwise in good shape heading into the key encounter.
Correa’s brace against Girona at the weekend could see the forward handed a start here, with Antoine Griezmann also set to feature in the final third, leaving Joao Felix on the bench.
A 5-3-2 formation seems most likely for Atletico under the circumstances, with Nahuel Molina featuring as the right-sided wing-back and Yannick Carrasco operating on the left.
Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez have both had their injury problems this season, but the pair are now available for selection and will be in the starting side for this match.
As for Club Brugge, Mats Rits, Dedryck Boyata and Owen Otasowie are on the sidelines through injury.
The Belgian outfit have no fresh fitness concerns ahead of the match, though, and it would not be a surprise to see the same XI that took to the field for the reverse game last week.
Head coach Hoefkens made wholesale changes for the league game with Westerlo at the weekend, but the team’s key players will be back in the fold for this match.
Jutgla joined Club Brugge from Barcelona over the summer, and the Spaniard has been in brilliant form this season, scoring eight goals and registering five assists in 14 appearances, including two goals and two assists in three Champions League fixtures.
Atletico Madrid possible starting lineup:
Oblak; Molina, Savic, Gimenez, Reinildo, Carrasco; Koke, Witsel, Lemar; Griezmann, Correa
Club Brugge possible starting lineup:
Mignolet; Odoi, Mechele, Sylla, Meijer; Buchanan, Vanaken, Onyedika, Nielsen; Jutgla, Sowah