A replay of an intriguing round-of-16 clash from the previous edition of the Champions League will grab plenty of attention as Atletico Madrid host Juventus.
The Turin side emerged victorious with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick to power Juventus to a second-leg comeback. This time both the teams will vie for the top spot of Group D, with Bayer Leverkusen lurking in anticipation of a slip-up.
The opening clash on Wednesday could hence play a crucial role in determining which team wins the group. We take a look at some battles ahead of the key tie:
CRISTIANO RONALDO V KIERAN TRIPPIER
25 goals, four hat-tricks and eight assists – few would disagree that Ronaldo loves playing against Atletico. Two of those four hat-tricks have arrived in the Champions League, thus warranting heavy caution for the hosts on Wednesday.
With just one goal in three games in the Serie A, the 34-year-old would have hoped for a better start to his season. But he has never been the one to let a temporary blip in form affect his prolificacy in a crucial tie.
Kieran Trippier will be excited at the prospect of testing himself in Atletico colours after making the final with Tottenham just over three months ago. His first challenge will require him to keep Ronaldo off the score sheet at Wanda Metropolitano.
JOAO FELIX V MATTHIJS DE LIGT
The biggest attacking talent will go face-to-face against arguably the biggest defensive talent in the world as Felix leads Atletico’s front-line against De Ligt.
The Portugal youngster has wasted no time in settling in at his new club and has earned his tag as potentially the most influential player on Wednesday. He had scored a brace against Juventus when the two teams met in a friendly last month.
Netherlands centre-back De Ligt has not looked sharp ever since his move to the Turin club. He will look to shake off his poor performance against Napoli and deliver a solid show.
Keeping Felix at bay should help him build his confidence ahead of the bigger games to come.
BLAISE MATUIDI V KOKE
Blaise Matuidi will look to lead the Juventus midfield, with Miralem Pjanic likely to miss the game because of injury.
Douglas Costa is also set to miss the key clash which means the creative burden on Matuidi will be high.
Koke has looked sharp in the four games he has featured in this season. He has delivered an average of 2.3 key-passes per game.
The 27-year-old, in partnership with Saul Niguez, could go a long way in running the show in midfield and feeding Felix with plenty of chances.
The midfield battle is a crucial part of every tie and the team that dominates the centre of the park is likely to dominate the game.
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