Atlético Madrid will have a testing group stage in their return to the Champions League this season, after being drawn against FC Porto, Zenit St Petersburg and Austria Vienna.
The group has decided European calibre, with each side with the exception of Vienna having won the Europa League at least once in the last five years.
The story of the group from an outsiders’ point of view will be Brazilian superstar Hulk’s return to Porto, after leaving the Primeira Liga for Russian side Zenit in the summer of 2012 for a fee of around €50m.
Atlético however will have to contend with Portuguese champions FC Porto after being drawn against them in back-to-back Champions League campaigns.
Our last appearance in Europe’s premier club competition ended in embarrassment back in 2009. Drawn in a group with Chelsea, Porto and APOEL Tel Aviv, Atlético slipped to a disappointing third place and only managed to qualify for the Europa League on away goals.
We finished the group stage with 3 draws, 3 losses, only 3 goals scored and a massive 12 conceded. Our two meetings with Porto resulted in a 2-0 away loss and a 3-0 defeat at the Calderon. We also lost manager Abel Resino along the way.
There are reasons to be optimistic this time around, with a much more structured team and tougher defence.
Atlético kick off their campaign on Wednesday September 18th, where they welcome last season’s Russian runners-up Zenit to the Calderon.