Lazio vs Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid travel to the Stadio Olimpico to take on Lazio in their opening Champions League Group E fixture, seeking amends for a dreadful weekend.
Back to the Champions League for the first time since 2020/21 on the back of an admirable runner-up finish in Serie A last season, Lazio will hope to at least replicate their success from their most recent campaign in Europe’s elite competition. Maurizio Sarri’s men made it out of the group stages that time. Yet after a dismal 3-1 loss to domestic rivals Juventus at the weekend condemned them to a third defeat in four league matches this term (W1), ‘I Biancocelesti’ will unlikely take the field in a buoyant mood. The impending return to Europe ought to bring a change in scenery, with Lazio following up a three-game unbeaten home run in the Champions League with an undefeated home campaign in last season’s Europa League (W3, D3).
In the meantime, Atletico Madrid headed into the international break in high spirits after a 7-0 rout of Rayo Vallecano saw them post the biggest-margin win in their La Liga history. However, Diego Simeone’s side lost momentum during the pause, as evidenced by a shocking 3-0 defeat at perennial strugglers Valencia at the weekend, ending a near-perfect three-game league start (W2, D1). After failing to reach the Champions League knockouts last season, ‘Los Rojiblancos’ will be keen to turn their fortunes around in their 11th straight group-stage appearance, but they must improve on the road. The Spaniards lost all three away matches in their fateful 2022/23 campaign, netting just one goal. But they can draw confidence from beating Lazio in both European H2Hs this millennium.