Antoine Griezmann stepped off the bench to guide Atletico Madrid to a remarkable 2-1 win over 10-man Porto in the Champions League, in a match that featured three stoppage-time goals.

Atleti and Porto played out a goalless draw when they met on the opening matchday of last season's Champions League, and a repeat looked likely for the duration of normal time on Wednesday.

But after Mehdi Taremi picked up a second yellow card for simulation, Mario Hermoso fired Atleti ahead before handling in his own area, allowing Mateus Uribe to level the scores with a 96th-minute penalty.

There was to be one final twist in the 11th minute of added time, however, as Griezmann reacted quickest from an Atleti corner to cap a remarkable contest with a dramatic winner.

Diego Simeone has suggested Atletico Madrid are limiting Antoine Griezmann's minutes in order to avoid activating a purchase clause in the forward's loan deal. 

Griezmann is midway through a two-year loan spell from Barcelona, but Atleti must reportedly make the France international's stay permanent should he play over 45 minutes in the majority of their games. 

While Griezmann made 21 league starts for Los Colchoneros last season, scoring three goals and adding four assists, he has been reduced to a bit-part role at the outset of the new campaign.

The 31-year-old has impressed during his three substitute appearances this season, scoring twice, but has only played 82 minutes in LaLiga.

Asked whether his management of Griezmann's playing time was dictated by club policy, Simeone said: "They have known me for 10 years. I am a club man and always will be.

"We must try to make them [the players] understand that entering 30 minutes well is more important than playing 60 badly. 

"Everyone wants to play more minutes and that is why the coaches look for the best situations for the team."

Atleti were relatively quiet in the transfer market, bringing in Nahuel Molina, Axel Witsel and Sergio Reguilon, while Renan Lodi's loan move to Nottingham Forest represented their most high-profile outgoing.

Simeone blamed their lack of activity on an inability to generate funds in recent years, adding: "We have been on vacation since May, June is complicated, in July we settled in and August was complicated again. 

"It seemed that four could go, three come in... but I think the pandemic crisis has a lot to do with it. We have not been able to sell in recent years and that creates difficulties."

Atleti travel to Real Sociedad for their fourth outing of the season on Saturday, having claimed six points from their opening three games in LaLiga.

Griezmann, who began his career with La Real, has recorded a goal contribution on each of his last three league visits to the Reale Arena (two goals, one assist).

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has praised the impact of Antoine Griezmann amid transfer speculation after netting the winner in Monday's 1-0 victory at Valencia.

Griezmann once again came off the bench just past the hour mark, making the decisive impact with a deflected 66th-minute strike after receiving a pass from fellow substitute Thomas Lemar.

The Frenchman is on a two-year loan at Atletico from Barcelona, and Los Rojiblancos have been using him for under 30 minutes in each match to avoid triggering a purchase clause in his contract.

"As long as Griezmann manages to respond as he does, having him on the field is very important and I understand that you have to put him on when it suits the team best," Simeone told reporters.

"The entry of Lemar and Griezmann gave us more peace of mind to impose the team's game."

Yannick Carrasco, who was a half-time substitute, has also been linked with a move away from Atleti, with Tottenham reportedly interested.

"You can't imagine it, it's normal for all coaches except for some," Simeone said about the Carrasco speculation.

"Something can always happen that is important for the clubs, we are not the owners but coaches."

There were two crucial VAR interventions in the win over Valencia, with Yunus Musah's thunderbolt ruled out after a foul in the lead-up on Joao Felix was spotted.

Valencia defender Thierry Correira was also sent off in the 42nd minute for a last-man foul, but that was downgraded to a yellow card after a VAR review.

"When the play started, it was clearly a foul," Simeone said about Musah's disallowed goal.

"The referee didn't see it, the goal came and then with the VAR he did see it.

"On the second play I didn't go for a goal, they told him no and I missed it. It's always fair what happens then there is no going back."

Diego Simeone hopes Antoine Griezmann will stay with Atletico Madrid on a long-term basis after the France international helped Los Colchoneros make a positive start in LaLiga.

Griezmann came off the bench to score Atletico's third goal in a dominant opening-day win at Getafe on Monday, with Joao Felix recording three assists and Alvaro Morata scoring twice in a 3-0 triumph.

The 2018 World Cup winner is 12 months into a two-year loan spell in the Spanish capital, having endured a largely unhappy period with Barcelona between 2019 and 2021.

Reports suggest Atletico have an obligation to buy Griezmann should he hit a minimum number of appearances in LaLiga this season, and Simeone is keen to keep the 31-year-old.

"We talked about it in the Getafe post-game. I have spoken a lot about him, he is very complete, he knows what we want," Simeone said.

"Last year he already played some games in that role. We see him as adaptable because he has vision of the game, technique, he allows us to play with a more offensive player elsewhere. 

"I hope he continues with us, I appreciate him and I love him. 

"Hopefully he can continue in the line that he had in pre-season and in this Getafe game."

Only Joao Felix (13), Angel Correa (13) and the since-departed Luis Suarez (10) bettered Griezmann's tally of eight goals in all competitions for Atletico last season, despite the France forward making just 27 starts.

Meanwhile, Griezmann will be looking to build on his opening-day goal against a favoured opponent when Atletico host Villarreal on Sunday, having scored four goals in his last four outings against the Yellow Submarine in LaLiga.

It was Griezmann's fellow attacker Joao Felix who stole the headlines last time out, however, becoming the first player to provide three assists on LaLiga's first matchday since Jordi Cruyff did so against Las Palmas in 2000.

But Simeone was unwilling to get carried away with his praise for either him or in-form strike partner Morata, adding: "We are starting LaLiga. It is early to make such a deep reflection. 

"They are in a good moment, they had a great pre-season, they are both excited. They have maturity. Let's hope they continue like this."

Newcastle United are reportedly engaged in discussions with Chelsea about a quartet of players, with the club said to be interested in Conor Gallagher, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Armando Broja.

Pulisic is the oldest of the four players at 23, and while that could mean Newcastle are looking for long-term building blocks, they are said to be interested in securing one on a loan deal, with a report from The Evening Standard indicating that would be Hudson-Odoi.

The St James' Park club have been relatively unsuccessful this transfer window, with goalkeeper Nick Pope and centre-back Sven Botman highlighting their business thus far, but they could change that quickly if Chelsea are willing to play ball.

 

TOP STORY – THE MAGPIES TURN TO STAMFORD BRIDGE FOR REINFORCEMENTS

According to The Telegraph, there is "widespread belief that several players at Stamford Bridge will be offloaded in the last few days of the window", and Newcastle are making sure they are in prime position to take advantage.

The report also mentions that the club are hampered by financial fair play rules, and despite their wealth, they will likely only be able to sign one player on a permanent basis, adding importance to the potential loan of Hudson-Odoi.

In another recent report from The Sun, it claims Newcastle view Conor Gallagher as their top overall target, although he would likely be the most expensive of the quartet at more than £40million.

 

ROUND-UP

Atletico Madrid would be willing to swap one of Antoine Griezmann or Alvaro Morata to Manchester United in exchange for Cristiano Ronaldo, according to The Times.

– Marca is reporting United are also interested in Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, although SB Nation's Lucas Navarrete claims it would take an "impossible to reject" offer to make Madrid budge.

– According to Foot Mercato, Nice are in talks with Arsenal about a loan move for Nicolas Pepe.

– Mundo Deportivo claims 21-year-old American right-back Sergino Dest "is feeling pressured" to leave Barcelona as they search for another full-back, and United are said to be a potential landing spot.

– Sky Sports are reporting West Ham are hoping to complete a £10.1m move for Paris Saint-Germain defender Thilo Kehrer in time for Thursday's Europa Conference League tie against Viborg FF.

Didier Deschamps remains confident Paul Pogba will be fit to play a big role for France at the World Cup despite missing the start of the season through injury.

Pogba sustained a knee problem in pre-season after returning to Juventus from Manchester United on a free transfer.

There were early suggestions surgery could see the World Cup winner miss Qatar 2022, but he has opted instead for therapy that aims to ensure a far swifter return.

Pogba is set to again be paired with N'Golo Kante in the France midfield in November, although the Chelsea man has not been without his own injury issues in recent seasons.

"We're talking about players who are in high demand – two players who have a big experience, leaders," Deschamps told Le Parisien of the duo.

"It is important that they are there, but we are never safe – hence the need to prepare younger players.

"I am obviously in contact with Paul. His participation in the World Cup, today, is not questioned."

Antoine Griezmann is another player still seen as key to Deschamps' plans, despite scoring only three goals in LaLiga last season.

"He's not a robot. Obviously the head controls the legs," Deschamps explained. "But every player encounters, sooner or later, a period of playing less well.

"This translates, then, into a loss of confidence.

"Antoine has had high-intensity seasons. Before his physical issue at the beginning of the year [a thigh injury], he had always been spared from injuries during his career.

"A few months earlier, he had changed clubs. External elements may also have impacted it.

"I know him well. He has a big mind. He needed to regenerate and will do everything to return to his best level. He represents a plus for the France team."

For now the focus is on getting France in the best condition heading into the World Cup, even as former Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane continues to be linked to Deschamps' job.

The France boss, for his part, is not worried, saying: "I've always put the France team above me, above everything.

"Today, the place is not free, since I occupy it with my staff. Afterwards, everyone has the freedom to say what he wants and how he wants. On me, it has no impact.

"The interest, today, for the players and the whole squad, is to be efficient at the World Cup. Anything that can defeat this common goal is not necessarily a good thing."

Antoine Griezmann is not up for sale and Atletico Madrid do not need to offload any players, insists president Enrique Cerezo. 

Atletico were reportedly considering finding a new home for Griezmann to raise €40million in player sales before making a move for Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo. 

However, Cerezo, who said a move for Ronaldo was "practically impossible", denied that Diego Simeone will need to part with any players ahead of the 2022-23 season. 

Asked if Griezmann could be let go, Cerezo told COPE: "As far as I know, no. It seems it's taken for granted that there is an open door, but it's not like that. 

"Yes, if the rumours continue to increase it will seem to be real, but it's not. 

"We have a wonderful team. With a great team and a great coach, we look forward to a wonderful season." 

Atleti have friendlies against Numancia, United and Juventus scheduled before commencing their LaLiga campaign at Getafe on August 15. 

Axel Witsel lauded Atletico Madrid's squad depth after he was unveiled as the club's latest signing on Wednesday.

Witsel joined Atleti on a free transfer upon the expiry of his contract with Borussia Dortmund, after lucrative spells with Zenit Saint Petersburg and Tianjin Quanjian.

Despite Hector Herrera's departure, the Belgium international bolsters Atleti's midfield along with the return of Saul Niguez from his loan at Chelsea, joining Geoffrey Kondogbia and Daniel Wass as a defensive presence in the middle.

During his presentation at the Wanda Metropolitano, Witsel asserted this Atletico Madrid squad is the one with the "highest quality" over his career.

"This is a group with a lot of quality," Witsel said. "I could say many players – Koke, Joao [Felix], [Antoine] Griezmann, Yannick [Carrasco], [Matheus] Cunha.

"We have a group with a lot of quality and it is very important because there is a very good mentality, with players who always want to work hard.

"I've been through many clubs and it's true that the fact of being here and having trained with the group, I think it's the group with the highest quality of all my career. There are a lot of internationals, I'm very proud to be here and to be part of this group."

Despite his age, Witsel showed continued durability last season, only missing five games in all competitions for Dortmund last season. Their season ended poorly though, with a last-16 exit in Europa League following a group stage knockout in the Champions League, while eventually finishing eight points off Bundesliga winners Bayern Munich.

The 33-year-old also praised new boss Diego Simeone, citing him as a motivating factor behind joining Atleti, along with their ability to keep him playing at the highest level, after his expiry at Dortmund.

"It is clear, he is one of the best coaches in the world, it is one of the reasons why I am here," he said. "In recent days we have focused on the physical and I have not been able to talk much with him, but I am very proud to work with him.

"It doesn't matter how old you are, at 33 or 23 you can always learn something, and you can always learn from him.

"I was free and I chose Atletico because I wanted to continue at a high level, I know I don't have ten years left, but I want to take advantage of my last few years to play at the highest level, Atletico is at that level and that's why I'm here."

A move to take Antoine Griezmann to Athletic Bilbao is "impossible" according to Inaki Arechabaleta, the presidential candidate who has pledged to appoint Marcelo Bielsa if he wins the club's upcoming elections.

Griezmann came through the ranks at Athletic's local rivals Real Sociedad, meaning the 2018 World Cup winner is often spoken about as a potential target for the club, who remain committed to a policy of only recruiting players hailing from the Basque Country.

Having returned to Atletico Madrid on a two-year loan deal from Barcelona last August, Griezmann struggled to tie down a regular starting spot during an injury-hit season.

He made fewer appearances in all competitions (36) than fellow forwards Angel Correa (49), Luis Suarez (45) and Matheus Cunha (37).

The 31-year-old's frustrating campaign in the Spanish capital had fuelled speculation he could be targeted by Athletic, particularly as prospective boss Bielsa attempted to sign the forward during his first spell at the club between 2011 and 2013.

But Arechabaleta says the France star's significant wages make such a move implausible at this stage.

"With Marcelo we have talked about the possibilities of signing players for Athletic and, therefore, we will be attentive to the possibilities we have to strengthen our squad," he told Spanish podcast El Partidazo de Cope.

On a potential move for Griezmann, he said: "He could be [a target] because it's part of the club's philosophy, but I think it's absolutely impossible.

"The problem is not whether Griezmann enters our philosophy. Griezmann is unattainable at the moment for salary and what you have to pay for him."

Meanwhile, Arechabaleta revealed he has been in contract with managerial target Bielsa since the immediate aftermath of his Leeds United dismissal in late February, as he prepares for the elections on June 24. 

"Marcelo is a great professional, one of the best in the world and is an asset, who joins a lot of assets that we have presented these days," he added.

"I had one of the first contacts in the month of March. The first thing he told me is that he really likes the Basque Country and Athletic, but that we should let him analyse the Spanish league and the current Athletic.

"He is a very up-to-date football genius."

Kylian Mbappe should be fit to feature in France's Nations League clash with Croatia on Monday, according to Didier Deschamps.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker was forced off during Les Bleus' 2-1 defeat to Denmark at the Stade de France earlier this month.

Mbappe appeared to sustain the injury innocuously, pulling up after playing a pass to Aurelien Tchouameni.

He sat out the follow-up draw away to Croatia before coming off the bench to score France's late equaliser against Austria.

Deschamps is unsure how long Mbappe can feature for on Monday, but he is seemingly expecting him to be in contention to play some part.

Asked if Mbappe is fit, Deschamps told reporters: "Yes, according to him, although he still has a feeling that is not ideal.

"He is much less uncomfortable than he was at the start of the week when he couldn't train.

"He was ready to do half an hour [against Austria], it was planned. He exercised his knee where he had this discomfort.

"We are doing everything so that he can be there tomorrow."

Another France forward who is having difficulties of a different variety is Antoine Griezmann.

The 31-year-old, who spent this season on loan at Atletico Madrid, has not scored for club or country since his first appearance of 2022, way back on January 6 in a Copa del Rey win over minnows Rayo Majadahonda.

His last goal for Les Bleus was two months earlier in the 8-0 win over Kazakhstan.

Despite his struggles, Deschamps insists he and the team retain belief in the man who played such a key role in their 2018 World Cup success.

"We have all experienced less beneficial periods, when confidence is less," Deschamps added.

"For Antoine, it is not a question of positioning. I have confidence in him, the group has too, he is not at his best but this can happen to anyone."

Defending champions France are bottom of Nations League Group A1 after three games, having only managed draws with Croatia and Austria after losing to Denmark on matchday one.

Didier Deschamps has backed Antoine Griezmann and N'Golo Kante to be at their best by the time the World Cup arrives, heading into Friday's Nations League clash with Austria.

After a disappointing spell at Barcelona, Griezmann's transfer back to Atletico Madrid did not translate into an immediate return to form, while experiencing fitness concerns for the first time.

In a career that has seen him mostly without injury, missing two games in 2019-20 with Barcelona, the 31-year-old missed 15 games with Atleti due to a combination of muscle injuries and Covid-19 enforced isolation.

With that in mind, though, Deschamps believes the talismanic attacker for Les Bleus will be back to his best.

"I know him well," Deschamps said. "He has often benefited more from playing for Les Bleus. It's not his best period.

"A part of it is physical, and a part of it mental. He suffered his first injury this season. I'm not saying he's worn out. I know his qualities and his mind too. He does not baulk.

"This is not his best period, but it does not mean that I question what he is capable of doing. I know very well what he can bring to the collective."

Along with Kylian Mbappe and Adrien Rabiot, also missing in Monday's draw to Croatia, Kante will miss Friday's game in Vienna due to lingering injury concerns.

The 31-year has sat extensive periods on the sidelines at club level over the past three seasons, with continual hamstring problems denying him from a consistent run of minutes at Chelsea.

After missing almost two months of football this past season, Deschamps concedes that Kante's fitness needs to be managed, but will hope to count on him.

"When he is at full capacity, any coach wants to see him in his team," the Les Bleus boss said. "In relation to the deadlines that are ours, let's make sure that he is in full possession of his means.

"Many players have accumulated seasons of 60 games. At some point, organisations suffer a little more. His coach at Chelsea [Thomas Tuchel] would like to have him a little more. You have to manage it. Him there, me here."

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Antoine Griezmann is among the top three or four players in Europe and will remain with the Spanish club beyond this season.

Griezmann sealed a return to Atletico from Barcelona last August on an initial loan with an option to buy after spending just two years at Camp Nou.

He has struggled to recapture his best form with Atleti, however, having scored just eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.

Indeed, the France international is on a 14-game run without finding the net in LaLiga, which is one short of his longest goal drought in the competition.

Griezmann's 13 direct goal involvements in 2021-22 is the fourth most among Atletico players, meanwhile, behind Luis Suarez, Joao Felix (both 15) and Angel Correa (18).

But contrary to suggestions in the Spanish press that Atleti are reluctant to purchase the 31-year-old outright, Cerezo has made clear a deal is being worked on.

"Griezmann is our player. He has a contract with Atletico Madrid and will stay here at Atletico Madrid," he said at an event on Friday, as reported by AS.

"In my opinion, Antoine is among three or four best players in Europe."

 

Atletico last week announced that Suarez will depart Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the campaign.

They still have Alvaro Morata on their books, though, with the Spain international's two-year loan at Juventus coming to an end after Saturday's Serie A clash with Fiorentina.

Unlike with Griezmann, Cerezo was less assertive when it came to discussing Morata's future in the Spanish capital.

"The truth is that I don't know what will happen to him," he said. "He's our player, but I don't know what will happen. I don't know if Juve will keep him or not. We don't know."

Atleti have conceded 42 goals in 37 LaLiga games this term, which is their worst record in a single campaign since 2011-12 when Diego Simeone took over midway through.

Jan Oblak in particular has endured a difficult campaign, though Cerezo rejected suggestions that the goalkeeper could move on in the upcoming transfer window.

"There are always rumours about everything," he said. "Jan is a goalkeeper for Atletico de Madrid, and he has a contract. He may yet renew for another 10 years."

Atletico Madrid consolidated their Champions League qualification hopes with a 2-0 win at Elche in Diego Simeone's 400th LaLiga game in charge of the club.

Simeone's side battled to a 1-0 victory over rivals Real Madrid on Sunday, and were soon ahead at Estadio Martinez Valero when Matheus Cunha opened the scoring in the first half.

Rodrigo de Paul added a second after the interval and Elche rarely threatened Jan Oblak's goal in response, failing to have a shot on target all game/until the Xth minute.

It mattered little for the boisterous home crowd as Real Mallorca's stalemate at Sevilla on Wednesday confirmed safety for Elche, while Atletico climbed into third – six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis with two games to go.

Sime Vrsaljko was forced off with injury after just six minutes before Cunha curled a presentable opportunity over in the opening exchanges.

Elche had scored two of their last three league goals from set-pieces and both Lucas Boye and Pedro Bigas headed narrowly off target from corners, but Atleti struck first.

Cunha opened the scoring after 28 minutes when substitute Renan Lodi latched onto Antonio Griezmann's lofted pass to drill across for the Brazil forward to poke home.

Elche fans were in celebratory mood after the interval as news filtered through of Mallorca's stalemate with Sevilla, while Bigas had to clear off the line as Cunha's deflected strike looped goalward.

A slick passing move resulted in Atletico doubling their lead and sealing victory, with De Paul exchanging a quick one-two with Griezmann, who unselfishly squared for the midfielder to tap-in.

Substitute Luis Suarez was denied his 12th goal of the LaLiga season by the offside flag in stoppage time, as Atleti cruised to victory.

What does it mean? Milestone man Simeone continues Elche dominance

Simeone's side eased to their 10th straight LaLiga victory over Elche, who have not defeated Atletico in all competitions since March 2002.

Victory capped a special day for Simeone, who became just the third manager to coach 400 LaLiga games with a single club, winning 244 of those matches across his 11-year spell in the Spanish capital.

Atletico have all but secured Champions League football for next season, with Betis requiring a remarkable turnaround in the last two games to earn a place in the top four.

 

Lovely Lodi

Lodi was named among the substitutes but was soon introduced following the injury to Vrsaljko, and the substitute offered Simeone a timely reminder of his qualities. 

The Brazil international was at his creative best down the left flank, supplying a game-high three chances in a dominant performance against Elche's right-back Helibelton Palacios.

Goalless Griezmann

Griezmann played a vital role in Atletico's goals, delicately chipping to left wing-back Lodi prior to his assist and teeing up De Paul when one-on-one with Edgar Badia, but the France star's woes in front of goal continued at Elche.

The forward has failed to score in his last 13 league appearances, his longest goal drought in a single season in LaLiga since January 2012 (14 – his longest run without scoring in a single season in the top-flight).

What's next?

Atletico can confirm their top-four spot by defeating fourth-placed Sevilla at home on Sunday, while Elche visit Celta Vigo on the same day.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone backed "one of the best in the world" Antoine Griezmann to return to form, while he offered his support for Luis Suarez amid a lean spell.

Simeone's side sit fourth in LaLiga, four points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis and appear set to secure Champions League qualification.

However, the form of forward Griezmann and the out of favour Suarez has come under scrutiny in the absence of the injured Joao Felix.

Griezmann has just three LaLiga goals in 21 appearances this season, finding the net once every 448 minutes on average, and has not scored in his last eight league games.

But Simeone insists the France international needs just one strike to regain his confidence as Atletico prepare to visit Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

"Antoine is not converting goals in recent games, his performances have not been what he is accustomed to," Simeone told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"He is one of the players with the most goals in the history of Atletico... He always works, he is always committed to the collective work of the team, I have no doubt that he will come out of this situation. 

"It's Griezmann, one of the best in the world, what he needs is to find a goal, which will give him confidence. From that, we will see the Griezmann who we were used to in previous years."

Only Fernando Torres (102 in 281 games) has more goals than Griezmann for Atletico in LaLiga history, the latter scoring 97 times in his 201 appearances for the club.

 

Suarez's form has also been a concern for Simeone, with the Uruguay international limited to appearances from the bench and scoring just twice in his last seven league games (both against Alaves).

The former Liverpool and Barcelona talisman is still Atletico's joint-top scorer this season, his 11 LaLiga goals only matched by Angel Correa, and Simeone hopes Suarez will soon find his feet again.

"I have no doubt that Luis will always score goals, with his team-mates, when he plays, in the Uruguayan team... because he has the ability to score," Simeone added.

"Hopefully if he comes in from the start or comes on in the game, he will make his mark on them. It's what he wants, what he feels, and what he lives off."

Suarez has failed to score in his last five away games against Athletic in the Spanish top flight, having previously netted on his first two visits to San Mames in LaLiga – both in 2015 with Barcelona.

Whether Suarez can regain his confidence against Marcelino's side remains to be seen, but Simeone knows the Basque side will pose a tough task.

"Marcelino is a very good coach, he makes his teams play well and that makes them complex to face," he continued.

"Also, whenever we have faced him he has very good teams, which usually have very good footballers. 

"This means that the matches are tight due to the characteristics of the team that Marcelino creates. I can't imagine a match that isn't tight."

The final matchday of the Champions League quarter-finals has arrived, with Liverpool and Manchester City in touching distance of the last four.

The Premier League pair played out a thrilling 2-2 draw in what many billed as the title decider on Sunday, but their attention now turns back to Europe as they hunt yet more silverware.

Liverpool, if uncomfortable at times, managed a 3-1 victory at the Estadio da Luz, while City hold a slender 1-0 advantage heading to the Wanda Metropolitano against Atletico Madrid.

Here, Stats Perform unpacks the pick of the data from a decisive Wednesday in UEFA's flagship club competition.

Atletico Madrid v Manchester City: Simeone's side must end home hoodoo

City make their first ever trip to Atletico in European competition having won just three of their last 11 away games against Spanish side – though Pep Guardiola's team won their most recent visit to Real Madrid (2-1 in February 2020).

The Premier League leaders do so with a narrow 1-0 first-leg lead, thanks to Kevin De Bruyne, after Atletico lost the first away leg of a Champions League knockout tie for a fourth time.

Simeone's side, though, may take confidence from the fact they have progressed on two of the three previous occasions they have lost the first leg away from home.

But the reigning LaLiga champions will have to turn around their torrid home form in the competition if they are to do so, given they are winless in their last seven home games in Europe.

The compact setup that many branded as negative will also have to make way for Atletico to compete, after they failed to record a single shot in the first meeting at the Etihad Stadium.

The fewest attempts across two-leg Champions League knockout ties is four (Shakhtar Donetsk v Bayern Munich in 2014-15), since Opta began recording in 2003-04, while the only team to have failed to record a shot on target across two legs in this period was Deportivo La Coruna in the 2003-04 semi-finals against Porto.

Simeone will look to Antoine Griezmann to make the difference, with the forward one goal away from overtaking David Trezeguet (29) for the fourth-most strikes by a Frenchman in the competition.

Meanwhile, City will reach the landmark of 100 games in the Champions League, having won 55 of their first 99 – only Real Madrid have triumphed more in their first 100 matches (57).

Liverpool v Benfica: Formidable Reds lucky Portuguese omen

The omens will be good if Liverpool can progress past Benfica here, given they have gone on to win the competition on the last two occasions they have won both legs in a European Cup or Champions League knockout tie against the Portuguese side, doing so in 1977-78 and 1983-84.

The Reds have won each of their last five games against Portuguese sides in Europe's premier club competition, scoring 16 goals and only conceding three times. 

Indeed, they are unbeaten in nine games against teams from Portugal in the competition since Benfica won at Anfield in March 2006 (W7 D2), as they eye a third Champions League semi-final under Jurgen Klopp.

That is as many times as the Reds had managed to do so prior to Klopp taking charge (2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08, all under Rafa Benitez), with the German somewhat of a knockout specialist.

There is no denying Liverpool are heavy favourites; they have progressed from each of their last 12 ties in the Champions League knockout stages after winning the first leg, since a 2001-02 quarter-final loss to Bayer Leverkusen, who lost 1-0 in the first leg before winning 4-2 in the return meeting.

Central to Klopp's plan will be the seemingly out of form Mohamed Salah, whose next home goal will see him overtake Steven Gerrard (14) for the most goals by a Liverpool player at Anfield across the European Cup and Champions League.

While only two teams have ever won by more than one goal away to Liverpool in the latter stages of the competition, one of those occasions was Benfica in a 2-0 victory in the last-16 in 2005-06.

Darwin Nunes will be the key, with the forward scoring five times in nine European appearances this season – no player has ever netted more in a single Champions League campaign for the Primeira Liga side.

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