Atletico Madrid looks to advance while Bayern rests players
Atlético Madrid needs to rebound. Bayern Munich is just looking to get some rest. Atlético will catch a break in the Champions League on Tuesday by hosting a Bayern squad that has already qualified and will leave out some of its top players for the Group A match.
The defending champions, who won their first four matches and have already guaranteed first place in the group, will make the trip to Madrid without striker Robert Lewandowski, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and midfielder Leon Goretzka.
“They are important players,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick said Monday. “Goretzka and Lewandowski have been injured, and if they are not at 100%, it’s better to leave them home.”
Bayern has struggled with fatigue and injuries in a packed schedule since it won the Champions League title in August.
Midfielder Corentin Tolisso also won’t travel because of a minor injury, and Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich still haven’t recovered from their ailments.
Reserve goalkeeper Alexander Nübel will be making his European debut for Bayern after playing mostly in cup matches until now.
“He has made a good impression and has shown his quality in training,” said Flick, whose team routed Atlético 4-0 at home in their first group match.
The game at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium means little to Bayern but could be decisive for Atlético, which is only two points in front of third-place Lokomotiv Moscow. A win could be enough if the Russian team is held by Salzburg, but a draw or a loss against Bayern could leave Atlético depending on other results in the last round.
Lokomotiv hosts last-place Salzburg in the other group match on Tuesday.
Atlético beat Salzburg to rebound from the loss to Bayern in Germany but is coming off two consecutive draws against Lokomotiv.
“It’s still Bayern Munich, it’s a great team regardless of who plays,” Atlético captain Jorge “Koke” Resurrección said. “Sometimes players who don’t get many minutes will be extra motivated to show what they can do. We will need to play a nearly perfect match to defeat them.”
The team coached by Diego Simeone is in good form in the Spanish league, having won six in a row to stay a point behind leader Real Sociedad with two games in hand. Simeone still doesn’t know if he will be able to count on striker Luis Suárez, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus while on Uruguay duty.
“This virus is strange,” Simeone said. “Maybe tomorrow he will test negative and can be available to play. He has been practicing and wants to help his team. But we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Atlético, which eliminated Liverpool in the round of 16 last season, has only one loss in its last 28 European games at home — to Chelsea in the group stage of the 2017-18 season. The Spanish club is unbeaten at home in 20 matches in all competitions, since losing to Barcelona 1-0 in the Spanish league a year ago.
Bayern’s only loss in in its last 25 European matches in the 2018-19 season, 3-1 at home against Liverpool in the round of 16. The German powerhouse is unbeaten in 15 away games in European competitions — one game shy of Manchester United’s competition record. Bayern’s last defeat in Europe was in the 2017-18 group stage against Paris Saint-Germain. The German club has won 10 straight away matches in Europe.