Atletico Madrid vs Lazio
Estadio Metropolitano sets the stage for a top-table Champions League Group E six-pointer between Atletico Madrid and Lazio.
Atletico Madrid’s 11th consecutive group stage campaign in Europe’s premier competition has been an utter success, with an unbeaten five-game run in Group E (W3, D2) putting them on the cusp of a first top-table finish since 2016/17. Following a demoralizing 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture at the Stadio Olimpico, which saw ‘Los Colchoners’ denied a win by goalkeeper Ivan Provedel’s last-gasp header, Diego Simeone’s men will be out to finish what they started on Matchday 1. Madrid’s mood must be buoyant as they’re not only unbeaten in their last four H2Hs (W2, D2) but take the field amidst an impressive run of five wins in six competitive outings (L1). Worryingly, though, the Spaniards have only emerged victorious three times in their last 13 Champions League matches on home turf (D7, L3).
Meanwhile, Lazio’s second appearance in the Champions League knockouts in four years has become a reality after a 2-0 home win against Celtic last time out. Despite only scoring seven goals in their five Group E matches, ‘I Biancocelesti’ have secured a runner-up finish with a game to spare, offering under-pressure manager Maurizio Sarri a lifeline amid the club’s disastrous Serie A campaign. Things seem to be improving, even though a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw against Hellas Verona at the weekend knocked them down from a three-match winning streak in competitive action. However, Lazio’s long-standing struggles against La Liga adversaries suggest another continental disappointment could be on the cards, with the Rome outfit suffering eight defeats on their last nine visits to Spanish soil (W1).