September 30, 2023

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Preview: Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Atletico Madrid

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Lokomotiv opened their Champions League campaign with an impressive point away to Red Bull Salzburg before suffering a 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich last week, with a total of one point leaving them third in the section.

It was always going to be a huge ask for the Russian side to qualify from this group considering the strength of the opposition, but they have performed impressively in their two fixtures thus far.

This is the third year in a row that Lokomotiv have been in the group stage of the Champions League, but they have finished bottom of their section in the last two seasons. Parovozy have actually lost 12 of their last 15 matches in the group stage of the Champions League, while they have been victorious in just two of their last 16 European fixtures, which is an indication of the size of their task.

Lokomotiv faced Atletico during the group stage of last season’s competition, suffering 2-0 defeats home and away, with Joao Felix and Thomas Partey scoring the goals for Simeone’s side in Moscow.

Marko Nikolic’s side will enter this match off the back of a 2-1 loss to Sochi in the league on Saturday, and they are currently sixth in their domestic table with 21 points to show from 13 matches.

Atletico, meanwhile, opened their European campaign with a heavy 4-0 loss to Bayern in Germany but managed to recover last week, recording a 3-2 win over Salzburg to put an important three points on the board.

The capital side were 2-1 behind in the early stages of the second half at the Wanda Metropolitano but Felix scored twice to secure the victory against the Austrian club.

Atletico are also going well in Spain’s top flight, winning each of their last three, including a 3-1 success away to Osasuna on Saturday to move into third, two points behind leaders Real Madrid with a game in hand.

The Red and Whites have reached at least the quarter-finals in five of their last seven Champions League campaigns, including last season, when they were knocked out by RB Leipzig courtesy of a 2-1 defeat.

Interestingly, Atletico have never lost in Russia, winning five of their seven matches, including a 2-0 victory away to Lokomotiv last season and a 5-1 victory against the same opponents in Moscow during the 2017-18 Europa League.

Lokomotiv will again be without the services of Mikhail Lysov, but the Russian outfit are otherwise expected to be in good shape in terms of injuries, and it would not be a surprise to see the same side that took to the field against Bayern in the team’s last Champions League fixture.

Anton Miranchuk was on the scoresheet against Bayern and should again support Ze Luis in the final third of the field, while Fedor Smolov is also expected to feature.

Vedran Corluka and Grzegorz Krychowiak should also start for Lokomotiv, who have lost seven of their last eight European home matches.

As for Atletico, Diego Costa, Yannick Carrasco and Sime Vrsaljko remain on the sidelines through injury, while Saul Niguez is still a doubt and is unlikely to be risked unless he is fully fit.

Luis Suarez was not involved in Saturday’s win over Osasuna, but the Uruguay international will return to the starting XI for this match, with the experienced striker set to join Felix in the final third.

Marcos Llorente, Lucas Torreira and Angel Correa are also expected to be in the XI, while Jose Gimenez returned from injury against Osasuna and should now start alongside Stefan Savic at the back.