Posts tagged Atletico Madrid
The Counter Press - You Hate to See It

The Counter Press Boys are joined by Spurs fan @ryne_jones to talk about all things Premier League including Tottenham's list of transfers. We also dive into Champions League matchups along with some Serie A talk.

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The Counter Press EP 27
2018-19 La Liga Power Rankings: Can FC Barcelona repeat as champs?
Photo credit: Aitor Alcalde / Getty Images

Photo credit: Aitor Alcalde / Getty Images

Spanish teams have had quite the decade when it comes to domestic football. La Liga teams have dominated both European competitions as Barcelona and Real Madrid have swapped Champions League honors while Sevilla has ran wild with Europa League in that span as well. With the Spanish Super Cup and the UEFA Super Cup completed, it’s time for the La Liga season to begin. There will be some changes in the hierarchy but nothing earth-shattering. Despite expectations for La Liga to go pan out exactly how many expect it to, it doesn’t mean it’s not a fun league to watch. Especially with the growing number of quality teams in the league.

Class 1: Title aspirations

Barcelona
Atletico Madrid
Real Madrid

If you have watched any of La Liga in the past couple of years, you already know which teams are going to be in this category. It’s the Big 3 of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid. The battle between the three teams is always a slugfest. Each of these games is passionate and filled with excitement.

Barcelona is the expected favorites to repeat as La Liga champions and rightly so. The Catalans made some key reinforcements in the transfer market and held on to Ousmane Dembele as well. Keeping the young French winger was a huge move and credit to Barcelona for not giving up on him so easily. He struggled in his initial season and the injuries didn’t help either. Arturo Vidal, Lenglet, and Malcolm were all good additions despite the large transfer fees. None of the three will likely be starters but they will serve as depth signings. In the case of the latter two, they are young and hopefully can ease their way into the squad later on. Expect Ernesto Valverde to run with his patented 4-3-3 with Suarez, Dembele, and Lionel Messi up top. The real questions will be in the midfield as the backline/goalkeeper will likely be set as well. Who will the third midfielder be alongside Rakitic and Busquets? Arthur will have a shot at being in the starting XI and but his chances look grim. He faces stiff competition in Coutinho as the Brazilian now has the No. 7 shirt and had a great World Cup too. Valverde always seems to take the more stable option so expect Coutinho to be playing in the Iniesta role next season as a playmaker. He also adds his own own offensive threat of being able to curl one into the top corner from outside the box. The Catalans will be defensively compact and stable in possession like last season. While they won La Liga with ease, they still have the bitter taste of the Roma defeat in their mouths. A trophy or two should be in crosshairs for this team.

Both of the Madrid clubs had rather opposite summer transfer markets. Real, as we all know, suffered a huge loss in Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. Both are losses Madrid did not expect to occur and it set them back. It was evident in Madrid transfer plans this summer. No big names other than Thibaut Courtois came in and no replacement for CR7. Now it’s Gareth Bale’s team offensively. Florentino Perez’s favorite Galactico signing will have the full reins in Julen Lopetegui’s system. With Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio likely up top with him in the attack, expect a lot more of the Bale of old or the one we see play for Wales. A guy who is much more comfortable taking on guys 1 v. 1 and burning them with pace. Hopefully, for Madrid’s sake, he can step up and show the quality which commanded his humongous transfer fee. The rest of the lineup should be the same as the same crew who won their 3rd straight Champions League title. This will be a tough year for Real Madrid and their fans. Their core group is a year older and they lost one of their most influential players in Ronaldo. There’s a high chance Real Madrid could walk away from this season with zero trophies to show for it, which in their terms is chaos. The loss against Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup could be a telling sign.

Speaking of Atletico, they had an aggressive transfer market. Particularly in the midfield with the additions of Thomas Lemar from Monaco and Rodri from Villarreal. Both played in the UEFA Super Cup and played well in their competitive debuts. The Frenchman Lemar was a natural fit in his given role and showed how much of a playmaker he could be for this team moving forward. Diego Simeone now has some toys he can play with offensively so expect Atletico to open up just a bit more than they have in the past. With Griezmann and Costa still up top for, they still possess a potent strike force which can strike at any time. We all know about the defense led by Diego Godin and Jon Oblak has shown why he can be a top 5 goalie in the world when he’s on his game. The only question is the right-back position as 33-year-old Juanfran is currently holding the starting role. Simeone’s team is currently the second-best in Spain at the moment and with enough balance in the squad, they can make another run at the La Liga title. Plus they are a dark horse in Champions League play with the signings they have made. Watch out for Atletico Madrid this year, they still have the same grind-it-out/going into battle attitude but with more flair than ever.

Class 2: European competition contenders

Sevilla
Villarreal
Valencia
Athletic Bilbao
Real Betis
Getafe

The battle between the big three are slugfests and so is the rotating door of who will finish 4th behind them. It’s same cast of teams who battle for the right. Usually their seasons include an ok Europa League campaign along with the occasional upset against a giant. Most fans are familiar with the Villarreal and Valencia’s of the world but there maybe a new team challenging for a European spot. It’s lesser well known team from Seville: Real Betis.

Betis had a robust transfer market, showing all of Spain they wanted to continue the success they had last year in the league when they finished 6th and qualified for the Europa League as well. Coming into the Benito Villamarin this summer were the likes of William Carvalho, Takashi Inui, Pau Lopez, and Sergio Canales. Add the addition of Marc Bartra in the winter window and you have a splendid year of transfers for Betis. It’s going to be a challenge this season as they have to balance their energy with Europe. Most teams struggle with this adjustment but at the same time, many clubs didn’t make the transfers Betis did. They are going to be in the chase for Europe qualification spots again this season but they won’t be sneaking up on anyone this time around.

Despite knocking out Manchester United in the Champions League, Sevilla still had a troubling domestic season by their standards. They finished 6th in the table and have to play in the qualification rounds of the Europa League because of it. Sevilla also bring in a new manager as Pablo Machin arrives from Girona. His 3-5-2 system created some problems for Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup and it bodes well for how they will do in La Liga this season. Obviously, it was different from the style they played last season but change is good sometimes. Ever Banega will still be pinging passes around in the midfield and bringing in Andre Silva from AC Milan was a smart move. Muriel and Pablo Sarabia should be the main attacking threats with the ever speedy Wassim Ben Yedder ready to come off the bench. Losing their second stable presence in midfield in Steven N’Zonzi will really hurt as he left for Roma a few weeks ago. Sevilla will be hoping they can restore some of the quality in the middle but they might struggle to find a guy who can screen the backline like the Frenchman could. Overall Sevilla is still a talented side and always seem to outperform what their squad sheet looks like on paper. Machin will have his side invigorated and revving to go.

After finishing 5th, Villarreal was the best of the Europa League qualifiers in terms of points. Javier Calleja’s men weren’t talked about much this summer although it doesn’t mean they had a poor one. In fact, the Yellow Submarines had a solid transfer window and brought in some decent players. They strengthened their attack by bringing in the likes of Gerard Moreno, and Karl Toko Ekambi while also promoting youngster Daniel Raba from the B team. With Carlos Bacca now back at AC Milan, it was wise to give Enes Unai and Roberto Soriano more attacking support and depth up top. Ekambi will be the man to watch as he is brought in from Angers for a decent fee. Other transfers included Ramiro Funes Mori, Javi Fuego, Miguel Layun, and Santi Cazorla as he made his return back to the Estadio de la Ceramica. Losing Rodri to Atletico Madrid hurt and they will miss having a young CDM in the central area of the park. There were some smart signings by Villarreal and a Europa League spot is in sight. Maybe if they overperform, they can knock on the door of the 4th place Champions League place.

Valencia were the best of this group in terms of points last season, finishing with 73 points, 12 ahead of 5th place Villarreal. In his second summer, Marcelino made some solid additions to Los Che but also raised some questions with this moves as well. He got some depth at center-back with Mouctar Diakhaby arriving from Lyon and Cristiano Picci from Portugal to shore up the right back spot. Geoffrey Kondogbia, who played exceptional for Valencia in the second half of the season, had his loan spell become permanent from Inter Milan. Uros Racic and Daniel Wass were brought in to help the midfield in their own ways. Racic or Kondogbia may slot into the spot which was left by Nemanja Maksimovic who left for Getafe. It will be a fight to see who will play alongside captain Dani Parejo. Wass will have a much tougher time finding a starting role with the abundance of attackers Valencia now have on their hands. Despite losing Goncalo Guedes back to PSG, Valencia still has a lot of guys who they can play up top. They brought in both Kevin Gameiro and Michy Batshuayi. They join a group of Simone Zaza, Rodrigo, and Santi Mina. It’s going to be tough to distribute the minutes. It could be a rotating door up front at the two striker positions. Valencia obviously has talent but with some of the teams around them getting better, they will have to scrape to finish 4th again.

Disastrous was the one word to describe Athletic Bilbao’s season last year. After Ernesto Valverde left for the Nou Camp, things crumbled for the Basque side. They finished a surprising 16th in the table and although they weren’t in any relegation trouble (14 points ahead of 18th place), it was a big drop off from the same Bilbao we have seen. It’s clear this squad still has some quality in Inaki Williams but there are big problems when it comes to how they can bounce back. Their transfer policy doesn’t always allow for much movement but they brought in two Eibar players and Yuri Berchiche from PSG. This is Eduardo Berizzo’s first summer so business might be slow but he needs to figure out how this is all going to work. They won’t have any Europa League games to deal with so they can go all in on getting a solid league spot. There is also a worry of relying a lot on an aged striker such as Aritz Aduriz. Athletic supporters will have to hope Berrizo can come in and get things back on track. Last season may have been a fluke but it also exposed a lot of problems in the squad. They could be in trouble this year as well.

Another team to look out for here could be Getafe. They finished three points behind 7th place and nearly qualified for Europe. It was a final matchday day draw between Sevilla and Betis which sealed their fate. After being promoted in 2016, this was a big jump for Getafe. Most teams who go down after a long spell in the top flight don’t always bounce back. If there is a dark horse, it’s Getafe.

Class 3: Mid-table shufflers

Eibar
Girona
Celta Vigo
Real Sociedad
Espanyol
Alaves

This part is also a tricky one as it’s a shuffle each season between quite of a few of these teams. There are some interesting ones though.

Girona will be one to watch for as they now have lost their manager after having a fantastic season by their standards (10th place). It was a good finish considering they were playing in the Segunda division just two years ago. Now it’s up to see just how much they will miss Machin. Girona has made some very solid transfers by getting two Manchester City players in Aleix Garcia and Patrick Roberts on loan. They also brought in Marc Muniesa from Stoke to shore up their defense. They might not finish as high as the upper mid-table like they did last year but Girona has seemed to make enough moves to at least stay out of the relegation battle.

After two straight 13th place finishes in La Liga, Celta Vigo seem to be sleepwalking through La Liga. It’s odd considering how this club was in a Europa League semi-final not too long ago. They made some moves in the window by picking up Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal and a teenager from Rayo Vallecano in Fran Beltran. This is sort of the case we have seen with Southampton in the Premier League. Celta Vigo has let their best talent go to bigger clubs and haven’t exactly been able to replace them. They might not be as in trouble as the Saints are but they are just one bad stretch of games from finding themselves fighting for their La Liga lives

Real Sociedad are also an interesting figure to watch for. They recently picked up Theo Hernandez on loan from Real Madrid and Mikel Merino from Newcastle. The computers also seem to love Sociedad, as 538’s La Liga predictions have them finishing 6th in the table.

Class 4: Relegation zone

Leganes
Levante
Huesca
Rayo Vallecano
Valladoid

As always, the three promoted teams are the ones that should be the most worried about going down. Huesca, Valladolid, and Rayo Vallecano will have to claw their way out of the bottom three and I think one of them will do it. Leganes could be in trouble after finishing a spot out of the relegation zone. Same goes for Alaves as well but the gap between them and the bottom teams was pretty big. Espanyol could be the upset pick to be in trouble for relegation but their defense should be able to save them. Levante is a team which should be worried too. They finished with 46 points last season and it’s not a hot take to say they might not finish around that same range again. It won’t be like last season where the bottom three going down were decided by March or so. This year will be much tougher.

Official table predictions:

  1. FC Barcelona

  2. Atletico Madrid

  3. Real Madrid

  4. Sevilla

  5. Valencia

  6. Real Betis

  7. Villarreal

  8. Athletic Bilbao

  9. Getafe

  10. Real Sociedad

  11. Eibar

  12. Celta Vigo

  13. Girona

  14. Alaves

  15. Espanyol

  16. Leganes

  17. Rayo Vallecano

  18. Levante

  19. Valladoild

  20. Huesca

The Counter Press EP 22 - La Liga preview

After reviewing the EPL last week, the Counter Press boys are back with another guest in Jeremy Beren(@JBBeren). We talk about the Spanish Super Cup, preview the upcoming La Liga season along with our table predictions as well as talk about the UEFA Super Cup.

Follow Josh: @highbiscuits
Follow Vijay: @VJVemu
Follow Jeremy Beren: @JBBeren

Atletico Madrid, Marseille battle in Europa League Final
The Citizen

The Citizen

It’s halfway through May which means we have arrived at cup final season. As the match days in Europe’s respective leagues wind down, we begin to get ready for some cup final fixtures. Not just domestically, but across Europe as well.

This week features the Europa League final, the little brother of the Champions League final. While it isn’t as hyped as the Champions League, the Europa League final does offer some fun matchups in recent fixtures. This year’s fixture features two teams with differing styles. It’s Atletico Madrid vs. Olympique Marseille who will clash in Lyon for the Europa League title and a spot in the Champions League next season. Let’s take a look at the two squads and what we can expect from both of them.

Olympique Marseille

It has been an OK season for French club Olympique Marseille in terms of their Ligue 1 standing, and they have a chance to get some silverware which would certainly put an exclamation point on their season. In fact, Marseille still could finish as high as 2nd in Ligue 1 pending on how the results go on the final matchday this weekend. Currently Marseille are one point away from 3rd place Lyon and 3 points away from 2nd place Monaco. If Marseille are able to get three points against Amiens on the final day, along with some help, they could jump up in the standings. This could be huge for Marseille as 2nd in Ligue 1 is automatic Champions League qualification while 3rd means you have to go through the playoff stage first.

In terms of the Europa League, Marseille had a rough beginning as they narrowly escaped the group stages. Finishing second behind RB Salzburg, Marseille were able to advance to the round of 32 thanks to a draw on the final day with the table leaders. Combine that with a draw by Turkish club Konyaspor and Marseille were through. They were then able to dispatch both Braga and Athletic Bilbao in the knockout stages pretty easily, winning both legs. But against RB Leipzig, they faced some trouble when they suffered a 1-0 first leg defeat against the upstart German club. The second leg was a much different story as Marseille put five goals past Leipzig to walk away the victors on aggregate, 5-3. Again they faced a Red Bull team in the semi-final, this time being Salzburg. After a 2-0 victory in the first leg it looked like Marseille were in cruise control but two quick goals in Salzburg for the home team changed all that. The game then headed to extra time where some controversy took place. A shot by Marseille in the 116th minute was for sure a goal kick yet the referees ruled it to be a corner, claiming it to go off a Salzburg player despite replay showing otherwise. That led to a corner which was put home by Rolando and Marseille survived a poor performance on the road.

But anyways, on to the Europa League final, which should be the only thing on the minds of Rudi Garcia and his men. This will be a tough test for the French club as they face an Atletico Madrid team who are super compact defensively. Atletico won’t give Marseille any favors in this game and Garcia’s players will have to be on their games to break them down. In terms of Marseille’s attack, it mainly runs through the duo of Florian Thauvin and Dimitri Payet. Thauvin has had an amazing season, scoring 26 goals for Marseille in all competitions. Payet hasn’t been as lethal in front of goals as his teammate but he has been a key set up man for OM. He has recorded 24 assists in all competitions this season with 7 of them coming in the Europa League. If OM even want a chance of winning this game, they are going to need both Thauvin and Payet to step up. They are the main chance creators and everything run throughs them. Other than that, they aren’t a lot of the guys on the pitch who will be able to create their own chances. Against a brick wall of a defense like Atletico Madrid, Marseille are going to need to be super creative and pick their spots offensively. They can’t be overly aggressive and take dumb risks, otherwise they will be picked apart by Atletico’s counter attack.

Atletico Madrid

It’s been an interesting year for Atleti. Like Manchester United, finishing second in one of Europe’s biggest football leagues is quite an achievement. But given the point gap and how Barcelona ran away with La Liga, it almost doesn’t feel like an accomplishment at all. But once again they have a chance to do something which has slipped through their hands twice before, winning a European cup trophy.

This will be Atletico’s fifth European final since 2009-10 and hopefully for them, it won’t end in heartbreak. While the Europa League trophy doesn’t hold the same bearing as a Champions League one, it's still a good ending to the season for an Atletico Madrid team who are seeing their prime players fade out of the limelight. We are seeing a new wave of Atletico players come through the ranks and play minutes for Diego Simeone’s squad as players like Juanfran, Gabi, and others will slowly be moved out. For sentiment sake, it would be nice to see a group who has gone through watching Real Madrid snatch the trophy from their hands twice to get to lift one after all they have been through.

With La Liga basically settled, this is all Atletico Madrid have to play for. They entered the Europa League in the round of 32 after crashing out in the Champions League group stage. Simeone’s squad suffered defeats against Chelsea, Roma, and even drew with last place Qarabag FC. It certainly was the group of death in the Champions League and Atletico Madrid just didn’t seem up to the task.

But things turned around in the Europa League thanks to some fortunate draws. They cruised past the likes of Lokomotiv Moscow and Kobenhavn before facing against Sporting. It was a shaky tie as Sporting pegged a goal back from Atletico to make it 2-1 in the second leg. But in typical Atletico fashion they bunkered down and finished it off. Then came the semi-final against Arsenal. It was a tough away leg at the Emirates thanks to an early red card. After nearly 50 minutes of Atletico resistance, Arsenal broke through with a goal and it felt as if Atletico were setting themselves up for a comeback in the second leg. But then came a huge slice of luck as a ball off the face of Laurent Koscielny landed right in front of Antoine Griezmann who slotted it into the top right corner. It gave Atletico their away goal and flipped the tie on its head. In the home leg, it was a typical Atletico Madrid game until a through ball send Diego Costa through and he didn’t miss. In what was Arsene Wenger’s final European game at Arsenal, Diego Simeone got the best of him as Atletico advanced to another final.

For Atletico, expect them to approach this the same way they have in finals before. Sit back and absorb pressure but aren’t afraid to counter attack. As typical with most French/Ligue 1 teams, Marseille’s back line is shaky. The likes of Griezmann and Costa could take advantage of it and strike on the counter attack. Gabi and company will be tasked with keeping Payet and Thauvin out of the danger areas. If they are able to that and stymie Marseille, then Griezmann and Costa can do work. In all honesty, those two are the only ones who pose and constant attacking threat for Atletico and if they don’t produce, neither do Atletico. But they’ve been so good it’s rarely been the case.

Prediction:

This game is going to produce very few chances and Atletico strike quickly but only to have Marseille square it all up right before halftime. Then either Costa or Griezmann are sent in via a ball by Koke or Saul, get past the Marseille defenders and fire it past Steve Mandanda for the second goal. It turns out to be the game winning goal for Atletico who then close up shop and see out the victory. Simeone and his group finally get to lift up their first European trophy in six years.

2-1 Atletico Madrid

Europa League preview

Even with the Champions League underway, we thought it was some time to appreciate some of the fixtures in this year’s Europa League. There are some quality clubs in this years competition as the likes of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, and Arsenal are all competing this week. Even RB Leipzig, who were at a time second in the Bundesliga, are in action this week. Let’s take a look at the three most intriguing fixtures taking place in the UEL this week.

AC Milan vs. Arsenal
TV: Fox Sports 2
Where is the fixture: San Siro in Milan, Italy

Andy Hooper/Daily Mail

Andy Hooper/Daily Mail

This is a battle of two historic clubs who find themselves in another season of disappointing results. Both Arsenal and Milan are relatively low (by their standards) in their respective domestic league tables. Arsene Wenger’s club sits firmly 6th in the Premier League table but are coming into this match on a 4 game winning streak which included two 3-0 beatings by Manchester City and stunning losses to Brighton and Swedish club Ostersands in the second leg of their previous Europa League tie. The Gunners look completely broken and are playing like a team who is desperate for anything positive to happen. With the Gunners firmly positioned in the middle of the table with the madness of them crashing out of the FA and League Cup, this is their final go around to grab a trophy this year.

It’s been a troubling year for AC Milan as well. They are currently 7th in the Serie A table, tied on points with Sampdoria for 6th. With them being 7 points behind rivals Inter for 5th and 6 points ahead of Atalanta in 8th, Milan are stuck in the table and it’s likely to stay that way. However, it doesn’t mean they don’t any other trophies to play for. In their most recent fixture they advanced to the Coppa Italia final after beating Lazio 5-4 on penalties. With both legs being disappointing 0-0 draws, the only way to decide it was a penalty shootout. After Marchi missed a penalty with the score being 4-4, Alessio Romagnoli stepped up and fired a penalty past Strakosha to send Milan to the final against Juventus. But now they have a test at home against Arsenal.

With Pierre Emerick Aubamayeng cup tied, he will be unavailable in this match. This handicaps Arsenal even more and they will likely rely on Alexandre Lacazette to be their striker. The former Lyon danger man has been moved out to the wing with Auba coming in. Not only has he been playing out of position but he’s dealing with a severe lack of confidence in front of goal. Arsenal will need to serve him some A+ chances for him to put one into the net of AC Milan.

The pressure on Wenger mounts with each passing game. It’s been a disastorous season for the Gunners and it could get worse in Milan. As bad as Milan has been in Serie A, they should be favorites in this tie and it helps that the first leg is in the San Siro.

Prediction: 2-0 Milan

 

Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
TV: Fox Sports Plus
Where: Stade Velodrome in Marseille, France

It’s been a turbulent season for Athletic Bilbao. They’ve lost some important players like Aymeric Laporte and it’s shown in their La Liga form. Right now Bilbao sit 14th, that’s right 14th, in Spain’s top division.  In their last two La Liga games, Bilbao drew Valencia 1-1 and were beat 2-0 by Sevilla. They are now 13 points behind 5th place Sevilla so barring a near perfect final months of the season + some help on the side, winning the Europa League is the only way Athletic can get back into Europe next season.

It was a tricky situation in their Round of 32 tie against Spartak Moscow. Bilbao escaped with a 4-3 win on aggregate despite losing the second leg 2-1. They will have to be much better against a Marseille team which likes to get up and down the pitch in a hurry.

The French team, who are 3rd in Ligue 1 at the moment, are in desperate need of a good game. Marseille have gone 4 games without a win which has included two back to back 3-0 beatings by league leaders PSG. In their most recent Ligue 1 match, they drew Nantes 1-1 in a game where they had 22 shots but only 4 on target along with 80% possession. It was a match they should have won. Like Bilbao, they advanced in their Round of 32 tie despite losing the second leg. Thanks to a 3-0 first leg win against Braga, they were able to get away with a 1-0 loss in the second leg.

Both teams are coming in with struggles in their domestic leagues with Marseille’s being more recent. But this will be a fun game. Especially from the French team’s side. They have scored 57 goals in Ligue 1, which is more than double of Bilbao’s total in La Liga. Look for Athletic to try and absorb the pressure while trying to strike on the counter.

Prediction: 2-1 Marseille

 

Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
TV: N/A
Where: Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, Spain

AFP

AFP

This matchup features the favorites of the favorites to win the Europa League against the leaders in the Russian Premier League.

Atletico Madrid are no doubt the best team in the Europa League and after crashing out in the Champions League group stage, they are ready to put the embarrassment behind them. Diego Simeone’s team will be revved to go tomorrow and will be looking to suffocate the game from the get-go. They are currently second in La Liga but saw their six game winning streak snapped against league leaders Barcelona in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss. Had they gotten the three points, Atletico Madrid could have putten some real pressure on the Blaugranes but thanks to a Leo Messi free kick, which he put into the top right corner, Barcelona are up 8 points on Atletico. They have to be able to put the loss behind them as they keep striving towards a Europa League title.

Meanwhile, Lokomotiv Moscow have built themselves a comfortable lead at the top of the Russian Premier League. They are seven points ahead of second place FC Krasnador. They had their four game domestic winning streak snapped with a 0-0 draw against Spartak on Sunday. But they are cruising in the league right now. Meanwhile, their Round of 32 tie against OG Nice was interesting. They were down 2-1 in the first leg when a red card sent their French opponents to 10 men. After that Lokomotiv scored 2 goals in the final 21 minutes to nab a crucial 1st leg win with the added bonus of away goals. They sealed off the tie in the second leg when Ignor Denisov scored in the 30th minute to make it 4-2 on aggregate. The 1-0 saw them to the Round of 16 but they will be facing a very tough squad.

The Russian league leaders played well in their last away leg but this isn’t Nice. They will be going up against one of the toughest teams in Europe and it’s going to take a massive performance from the away side to make this a competitive tie.

Prediction: 3-0 Atletico Madrid