Atlético Madrid will play against Bayern Munich, PSV Eindhoven and FC Rostov in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League this season.
The draw took place in the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on Thursday evening, with the red and whites placed into Group D alongside three very difficult opponents.
A trip to Russia and matches against two domestic champions are not what the travelling Atleti delegation would have wanted, but will be a good challenge as we look to reach the final in Cardiff next June.
As you’ll probably remember, Bayern and PSV were two of our opponents in last year’s knock-out stage, both of whom pushed us right to the limit in intense, nerve-wracking matches.
One of our three European Cup finals came against Bayern Munich back in 1974, as late drama saw the German side lift the trophy after a replay.
They are now managed by Carlo Ancelotti, who took the reins from Pep Guardiola from the summer. The Italian enjoyed a number of good battles with Atleti and Simeone in his two years at Real Madrid.
Whilst we were victorious three times in La Liga – including THAT 4-0 win – and beat them in the Spanish Super Cup final, Ancelotti was triumphant in the 2014 Champions League final and 2015 quarter-final.
Meanwhile, we take on PSV for the third time in 8 years, and the Dutch side will want revenge after losing narrowly in a pulsating penalty shoot-out at the Calderón last March.
They were also on the wrong side of two defeats back in the 2008/09 group stage, back when Javier Aguirre was in charge of a much different Atleti spearheaded by Sergio Agüero and Diego Forlán.
Champions League debutants FC Rostov make-up the group, and like all Russian teams will pose a difficult challenge given the freezing conditions in the winter months.
Having finished second in their league last season, they qualified in style with a 5-2 thrashing of European stalwarts Ajax 5-2 in the play-offs. Their Olimp-2 stadium holds just 15,840, but has a grass pitch unlike others in Russia with artificial surfaces.
“It’s a strong group full of great teams,” said club director Clemente Villaverde. “Last year we proved we can eliminate Bayern and anybody else, we’ll work hard to try and get through.”
Antoine Griezmann was also in attendance, but lost out to Cristiano Ronaldo for the UEFA Best Player award. Elsewhere, Saúl’s stunner against Bayern came fifth in the vote for last season’s best goal.
Are you happy with the draw? How do you expect us to fare?