Atlético found themselves in a tricky position in the UEFA Champions League group stage and at one point considered leaving Europe altogether, but a vintage performance at Porto on Matchday 6 changed the situation.
Round of 16: Atlético v Man. United
Campaign so far
Second in Group B: W2 D1 L3 F7 A8
Best striker: Antoine Griezmann (4)
09/15: Atletico 0-0 Porto
09/28: Milan 1-2 Atlético (Leão 20; Griezmann 84, Suárez 90+7pen)
19/10: Atlético 2-3 Liverpool (Griezmann 20 34; Salah 8 78pen, Keïta 13)
03/11: Liverpool 2-0 Atlético (Diogo Jota 13, Mané 21)
11/24: Atlético 0-1 Milan (Messias Junior 87)
07/12: Porto 1-3 Atlético (Sergio Oliveira 90+6p; Griezmann 56, Correa 90, De Paul 90+2)
Campaign in ten words: Struggled in a tough group but delivered when it mattered.
The opinion of a UEFA.com journalist
It was a campaign that never really started until the win over Porto on Matchday 6. A goalless draw with the same opponents on Matchday 1 was followed by a last-minute win at Milan that didn’t have the galvanizing effect many had expected. Successive defeats against Liverpool have left Atlético with their backs to the wall, but that’s how Diego Simeone’s side like it.
What we have learned
Coach Simeone often speaks of his side’s ability to ‘suffer’, and they had to draw on all that experience in Group B. Abnormally poor in their home fortress, it’s ultimately the performances away from home. Atlético who allowed them to get out of it. If they can get back to winning ways at home, they can go far.
Fantastic star performers
Antoine Griezmann – 30 points
Koke – 20 points
Jose Maria Gimenez – 20 points
Clubs can register a maximum of three new eligible players no later than 24:00 CET on Wednesday February 2. Since 2018/19, it doesn’t matter that these players have already played in the competition for another club, even for another club still in competition. Once all squad changes have been approved by UEFA in each competition, the full list of ins and outs will be published on UEFA.com.
• Atlético have only managed to emerge from the group stage under Simeone once, in 2017/18: the season they won the UEFA Europa League.
• Atleti’s tally of seven points was the lowest tally of any team through to the knockout stages this season. The lowest on record remains Zenit’s six points in 2013/14.
• The Matchday 6 win against Porto was Atlético’s 50th victory in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.