Champions League Preview: Rostov vs. Atlético

Rojiblancos looking for a win in Russia against Champions League new boys

Rojiblancos train in feezing conditions in Rostov

Rojiblancos train in feezing conditions in Rostov

Diego Simeone and Atlético Madrid are going to do something no North American sports team would want to do amid the heightened political climate – play a game in the Russian Federation.

However, if an American side ever did make the trip to play in Putin’s backyard they’d have something in common with Atleti, it’d also be their first time ever playing a match in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

Yes, that is where Atleti’s trip to Russia gets interesting.

Los Rojiblancos will be the first Spanish team ever to set foot in the Russian city. According to Marca, the 2014 La Liga champions will travel over 3,500 kilometers to Rostov-on-Don.

Despite this long trip, Atlético is still aiming to win their third straight Champions League match. The Spanish side won their first two Group D matches against PSV Eindhoven and Bayern Munich.

Speaking to Marca, the Argentine manager was asked if the cold conditions were going to be an issue. As expected, Simeone wasn’t concerned:

“When I was a young child, we played in the square in the mud, on cobblestones, on synthetic grass, in tall grass. You just have to play is football even in circumstances such as wind, sun, cold, snow.”

Weather conditions aside, Atlético Madrid are unbeaten in their last four visits to Russia. However, FC Rostov are unbeaten at home in their last 26 games across all competitions, as per

But, as we all know, Atleti are in hot European form and in domestic form. They’re unbeaten in the Spanish Primera and have won seven matches, things are looking really good.

Still, as the club’s twitter noted, Simeone feels as though their Russian opponent shouldn’t be taken lightly:

Simeone is expected to name a similar XI to the one that breezed past Granada 7-1 on Saturday, with Fernando Torres for Kevin Gameiro in attack the only change.

Saúl Ñíguez returns after injury, although Augusto Fernández, José Giménez and Miguel Ángel Moyá are still out with problems of their own.

His side have had to catch two planes in order to reach the Russian city and will play in forecasted temperatures of around 4°C, so a win would really put them in a good position to qualify and even win the group.

That won’t be easy though given Rostov’s home form. The Champions League debutants are unbeaten at the Olimp-2 in all competitions since May 2015 when they lost to Terek Grozny in the league.

Elsewhere in the group, Bayern take on PSV in Munich, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side will be looking to put the pressure back on the rojiblancos after their defeat in Madrid last month.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Oblak, Moreira
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran
Midfielders: Koke, Tiago, Carrasco, Gabi, Thomas, Gaitán
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro

  • Mitch

    Russians are friendly and they like Torres a lot!

    We MUST and will win!

  • Joa

    I’d love for Torres to get a goal today. El Nino 🙂