Lucas Hernandez's special Champions League encounter with former club Atletico
It's no secret that the opening game of this season's Champions League group stage is huge for Lucas Hernandez. "Of course, I have a special relationship to Atletico. I grew up there and the club gave me everything," the 24-year-old said at Tuesday's press conference ahead of Bayern's opening game of the European campaign against the Frenchman's former club.
Successful years at Atletico
Hernandez had joined the Madrid club in 2007 at the age of just 11. The defender came through the youth teams there before making his senior debut in a 3-0 win away at third-tier L'Hospitalet in the Copa del Rey in December 2014. He'd go on to make 110 competitive appearances for the club and would win the 2018 Europa League and UEFA Super Cup.
In 2016, Hernandez was part of the Atletico team that lost the Champions League final to city rivals Real Madrid. His dream of lifting (and wearing) the famous trophy would eventually come true in 2020 after his move to Munich. "I joined a big club. Last season we won everything there is to win," said the France international, who also admitted he wasn't entirely happy due to injuries and adapting to his new life. "It was a difficult year," Hernandez stated. "But now I'm fit and want to prove what I can do and make the best impact possible."
Hernandez with a taste for Champions League glory
His coach also believes he's making good progress. "He showed what quality he has at the back end of last season," Hansi Flick stressed. His next chance to demonstrate that could come on Wednesday evening against his youth club. "I'm excited to see my former teammates again. It's a year since I left, but Bayern is all that matters on the pitch. I want to win every game." And there will be no exception, even against his beloved Atletico.
That's because the World Cup winner still has big aims. "We want to repeat that great season," said Hernandez, who believes the treble winners have a good chance of doing so this term. "You'd definitely say we're among the favourites. We have a great team and you can see in training that we have a healthy competition for places."
See how Bayern got on in their final training session before the Atletico clash: