Atlético Madrid vs Qarabag – Tuesday, October 31, 19:45 BEST/20:45 CEST – Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid.
It is all or nothing for Atlético Madrid on matchday 4 of the UEFA Champions League as the goalless draw in Azerbaijan on matchday 3 leaves Diego Simeone’s side third in Group C on two points, three behind second-placed AS Roma and five adrift of Chelsea FC. Qarabag, on the other hand, had cause for celebration as the 0-0 draw was Qarabag’s first ever point in the UEFA Champions League.
While the draw will not be enough for Qarabag to see the side advance to either the round of 16 of the Champions League or the round of 32 of the UEFA Europa League results against the big boys could make a decisive impact on the final standings of Group C that also includes Chelsea and Roma. Another result against Atlético, in fact, could almost eliminate the Spanish side especially after Chelsea and Roma battled each other to a 3-3 draw in London on matchday 3.
Group C is currently topped by Chelsea with seven points, and Roma are in the second spot with five points. Atlético in the meantime have collected just two points in the first two games. A dominant performance against Qarabag at home is therefore expected from an Atlético side that has managed to finish second on two occasions in the last three years in this competition.
Atlético Madrid vs Qarabag – Players to look out for:
Fernando Torres #9 – Atlético Madrid
The legendary 33-year-old forward Fernando Torres is nearing the twilight of his career. An Atlético Madrid product Torres returned to the club in January 2015 after spending time with Liverpool, Chelsea and AC Milan. The former Spanish national team striker has picked up two European Championships a World Cup and one Champions League title throughout his career. In his last two seasons with Atlético, he also demonstrated that he still has a knack for scoring goals netting eight goals and six assists last season and eleven goals and four assists the season before that. This year, however, he has been left on the score sheet and seen his role diminish. With Diego Costa returning from Chelsea in September Torres could even leave the club this January—he has been heavily linked with a move to Mexico. Atlético head coach Diego Simeone will likely use the match against Qarabag for some squad rotation, which could provide Torres with some much needed playing time.
Mahir Madatov #11 – Qarabag
The 20-year-old Azeri left-winger Mahir Madatov has been the revelation of the still young Azeri Premyer Liqasi. The dynamic winger is a product of Qarabag’s youth academy, and early indications show that he could become a symbol of the progress of football in the country scoring five goals in the first seven matches of the season.
Atlético Madrid vs Qarabag– Match Stats
- The game on matchday 3 was the first fixture between the two sides.
- The 0-0 draw meant a first ever point for Qarabag in the UEFA Champions League.
- The Spanish side played a friendly against FC Baku in 2013, winning 3-0 with Diego Costa—who returned to Atlético in September but is not in their UEFA Champions League squad—scoring one of the goals.
- Going for their fifth successive Azerbaijani title, Qarabağ have 19-points from seven league matches this season, six more than they had at the same stage last term.
- The 2-1 loss to Chelsea on matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League is Atlético’s only defeat in their last 14 matches in all competitions, a sequence stretching back to early May.
- Qarabag’s away record in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League group stages is W2 D1 L7.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Atlético Madrid vs Qarabag 3-1
Qarabag vs Roma – Possible Lineups
Oblak – Filipe Luis, Godín, Savić, Juanfran – Gabi, Ñiguez – Carrasco, Nico Gaitán – Torres, Griezmann
Manager: Diego Simeone
Kanibolotsky – Agolli, Guseynov, Rzezniczak, Medvedev – Michel, Richard – Madatov, Quintana, Elyounoussi – Ndlovu
Manager: Gurban Gurbanov
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.