FC Bayern's 2015/16 Champions League exit dates back to May when they lost 1-0 to eventual finalists Atlético in the semi-final first leg in April. 154 days later the sides meet again: the German record champions contest their first away match of the new Champions League campaign against Atlético at the noisy Estadio Vicente Calderón
on Wednesday evening at 20.45 CET.
"We know Atlético have become one of the biggest challenges in world football," FCB centre-back Mats Hummels commented on Bayern's second Group D opponents. The hosts started the group phase with a narrow 1-0 victory away to PSV Eindhoven, but Hummels credited the Spaniards for their "enormous quality up front." But also in defence Atlético have the quality to "cause their opponents great problems. It's a very tough challenge."
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called Atlético "certainly one of the strongest Champions League teams" before setting off for the Spanish capital on Tuesday morning. After three domestic defeats in a row for Atlético Rummenigge was confident that the Bavarians and coach Carlo Ancelotti can take "at least one point, or even three."
Ancelotti has yet to be beaten by Atlético in the Champions League. Coaching Chelsea and local rivals Real, he drew twice and won three matches, including the 2014 final. "We need good omens to achieve a good result," stressed Rummenigge, who refused to call the meeting a chance for revenge for last season's semi-final: "It starts again from scratch."
Philipp Lahm agreed: "You can't make amends for a semi-final defeat," the Bayern skipper said. Lahm stressed that the focus is on "three points in the group stage now. Wherever we go, we aim to win the match. But even one point away to Atlético would be okay. It's important for us to take points tomorrow, then we can call it a good start to the Champions League."
Unlike last season's semi-final, when Bayern struggled with a considerable injury roster, the German record champions will contest the match with almost their full squad. Apart from Holger Badstuber and Douglas Costa Ancelotti has all his players at his disposal. Hummels, who sustained a knock to the knee in Hamburg last weekend, is "ready," according to the Italian. 21 players set off for Madrid, Ancelotti has to cut his squad by three on the matchday.
The 57-year-old, who coached Spanish record champions Real for two years from 2013 to 2015, has little time for sentimentality on his return to Madrid. "I'm really looking forward to be here again. It's always nice to return," said Ancelotti, who stressed the difficulty of the task: "I'd like to return to the Caldérion on other occasions, not exactly now. It's always complicated against them. We need a strong performance."