Atletico Madrid out to upset Bayern Munich again in UCL Group D
Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here's a preview for Group D. Who do you think will go through?
1. Atletico Madrid
2. Bayern Munich
3. PSV Eindhoven
Bayern have now reached such a point where winning the Bundesliga is the bare minimum expected, and victory in the Champions League is now the primary aim for the Bavarian behemoths. While any debate over whether Pep Guardiola was a success or failure at Bayern, because he didn't win the Champions League, is surely too binary; the team brass clearly had Europe in mind when they appointed his replacement. Carlo Ancelotti is one of two managers (along with Bob Paisley) to win the tournament three times, but if he manages what his predecessor couldn't, then he'll be the first to win it with three different clubs. And all in the Champions League era too.
Usually you might expect Atletico Madrid to be upset at being drawn with Bayern, but Diego Simeone seems like a manager who likes things to be difficult. He has managed to crack the great Spanish duopoly and nearly won a remarkable second Liga title last season, as well as coming within a penalty shootout of victory in this tournament, which would have been even more extraordinary. This summer they have managed to avoid selling their best players, and in Antoine Griezmann they have a forward who looks like he's about to make the step up to the "Ronaldo-Messi-Suarez-Bale" level of quality. Even with just about the toughest draw they could have been given, don't bet against them.
Eredivisie winners by virtue of Ajax fluffing their lines on the last day of the season, to make it two consecutive championships. Coach Phillip Cocu is developing a fine reputation, with May's triumph achieved having sold previous stars Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum. A predominantly Dutch group of players will aim to match or better last season, when they lost on penalties in the round of 16 to eventual finalists Atletico, having eliminated Manchester United in the group stage.
On Wednesday, they positively humiliated four-time winners Ajax with a 4-1 final qualifying round second-leg thrashing. A club with no permanent manager -- Dmitri Kirichenko is the current caretaker -- enjoyed the most glorious night in their history on the Don River delta. Kurban Berdyev, who guided Rostov to a highest ever league position of second last season, quit on Aug. 6.
Game of the group
Atletico vs. Bayern. The all-conquering Bavarians will expect to clean up, and probably should do given their resources, but Atleti have made embarrassing teams like that their business in recent years. Don't be surprised if Simeone's men top the group by beating Bayern.
Kingsley Coman. Bayern have an incredible range of options in the attacking third, to the point that some of the most decorated and talented players in the world cannot consider themselves automatic selections for the first team. But Coman, still just 20, looks like something else, and could well take another step forward this season.
Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.