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Opening group game against Atletico Madrid

Holders Bayern begin Champions League campaign with highlight fixture

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The champions are back in European action as Bayern begin the defence of their Champions League title against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday (kick-off at 9pm CEST, coverage via our live text updates and web radio). Find out all you need to know ahead of the return of continental football to the Allianz Arena.

Situation for Bayern

Bayern’s Champions League defence begins just 59 days after beating Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon. They have been drawn in Group A alongside Atletico, Lokomotiv Moscow and Red Bull Salzburg. The treble winners warmed up for Wednesday’s opener with a 4-1 win at Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga.

See how Bayern prepared on the day before their opening Champions League game against Atletico:

Hernandez faces youth club

For Lucas Hernandez, this game is a trip down memory lane. The France international joined the Madrid club at the age of 11. After 12 years with Los Colchoneros, he left for Munich in summer 2019. “I’m excited to see my old teammates again, but Bayern is what matters on the pitch. We want to win every game,” the defender said at Tuesday’s press conference.

Wednesday’s game is a special clash for Lucas Hernandez:

Opponents Atletico

As with Bayern, Atletico also come into this Champions League match on the back of a win, having claimed a 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo on Saturday. They had previously played out consecutive goalless draws against Huesca and Villarreal after opening their La Liga campaign with a 6-1 thrashing of Granada. “Diego Simeone has managed to constantly develop this team. They have one of the best defences in Europe but also have real quality in attack,” said FCB head coach Hansi Flick of his opposite number. Los Colchoneros finished last season third in the league and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

All you need to know about opponents Atletico Madrid:

Personnel

Bayern have been hit by the last-minute news that Serge Gnabry has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t be able to feature on Wednesday as he self-isolates at home. Leroy Sané and Tanguy Nianzou both continued their individual recovery programmes on Tuesday but remain sidelined for Bayern. As for Joshua Kimmich, whose partner is expecting their second child, Flick said, “Everyone knows how important Joshua is for our game, but we all know things can move, especially with the second child. So we’ll have to see how things are tomorrow.”

Atletico arrive in Munich without striker Diego Costa. The Spaniards are also without Saul Niguez and Jose Maria Gimenez, as well as long-term absentee Sime Vrsaljko.

Coaches' view

Hansi Flick: “It’s a highlight to face Atletico in the first game of the Champions League. We have to remain tight, compact and put the opponent under pressure. It’s a meeting of equals because they’re a team whose play reflects what the coach exudes, which is showing great passion on the pitch. And that’s why I’m looking forward to this game. We have a match plan that we want to implement tomorrow.”

Diego Simeone (Atletico head coach): “We’re well prepared for a strong opponent and will try everything to hurt them. Of course, we also need space. At the same time, we have to make sure we don’t provide them space. Transition play is important. It’s always been our approach to be solid at the back but to also offer something going forward. They’re the holders and one of the best teams in the world. We want to show togetherness within our team and try to be successful with emptions.”

Listen to all the statements from the press conferences with Hansi Flick and Lucas Hernandez here:

The referee

Michael Oliver of England will oversee Bayern’s opening Champions League game of the season. FCB have good memories of the 35-year-old, having taken charge of the 3-1 win at Besiktas in the second leg of the 2017/18 round of 16. His assistants are fellow countrymen Stuart Burt and Simon Bennett, with Stuart Attwell as the VAR.

Top fact

Bayern have won their last 16 opening games of Champions League campaigns, which is a competition record. They last started without three points in 2002/03 with a 3-2 defeat at home to Deportivo La Coruna. The aggregate scoreline in first group games since then is 38-2.

Check out even more facts and stats on the Atletico game here:

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