Atletico Madrid Will Be Delighted with Perfect Champions League Draw vs. PSV

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2015

UEFA Champions League final ambassador  Javier Zanetti shows the name of  Athletico Madrid football club during the draw for the UEFA Champions league round of sixteen, on December 14, 2015 at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon.  AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

The draw for the UEFA Champions League round of 16 was made on Monday and Spanish Liga side Atletico Madrid saw their name paired with Eredivisie champions PSV Eindhoven.

While every side remaining in the competition will be pleased with themselves and looking to have an impact in the latter stages, Atletico will be particularly satisfied with their lot.

Atletico manager Diego Simeone is likely to also consider the tie as perhaps the best his side could have wished forfor reasons beyond merely being drawn against a side he will view as beatable.

The official result of the #UCLdraw pic.twitter.com/SZprFs0YMP

— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 14, 2015

Beatable Opposition

First and foremost, though, we should address the fact that PSV is a winnable tie. Atletico Madrid beat Benfica on the final matchday in the group stage and their reward for that was top spot out of the quartet, which also featured Galatasaray and Astana.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - DECEMBER 08: Atletico Madrid's midfielder Saul celebrates scoring Atletico de Madrid first goal with his team mates during the match between SL Benfica and Club Atletico de Madrid for the UEFA Champions League at Estadio da Luz on Decem
Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images

Having already assured themselves of a spot in the last 16, Atleti could have rested players—but Simeone gambled big on taking top spot and a better draw, and that is certainly the case after seeing PSV emerge as their opponents.

The Dutch team aren't shabby, of course—few teams make it to this part of the Champions League and are seen as "poor"—but among the runners-up were the likes of Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain, who would have been far harder prospects than PSV.

It's a tie Atleti will expect to win over the two legs and continue their progression in the competition.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Peripheral Vision

Simeone's men have proved themselves more than comfortable playing out ties or individual fixtures as underdogs, a team that flies below the radar by not becoming involved in the headlines until the most telling part of the season unfolds—and they're continually still in the running for trophies.

When the Champions League gets up and running again in February, it's inevitable that certain ties will take the eyes of the world; Barcelona vs. Arsenal is one and Bayern Munich vs. Juventus is another.

PSG and Chelsea will meet...again
PSG and Chelsea will meet...againNICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

While the focus will be on that type of fixture, Atletico will be left largely untroubled and free to prepare, play and probably progress in their usual manner; not attracting too much undue attention and not raising any flags by dumping a huge name out the tournament early on.

It seems that once again, in La Liga as much as in the Champions League, Atleti are being overlooked in favour of the bigger sides—yet they should still go on to reach the same stages of the competition as some, and go further than others.

Eliminate Contenders

It's not just Atletico's own tie that Simeone and the club will view as perfect. There are two heavy favourites for the Champions League this year in most peoples' eyes, Bayern and Barcelona, but another handful—Juventus, Real Madrid and perhaps PSG—aren't an awfully long way behind.

You have to beat the best to lift the trophy, but it can be helpful if you don't have to beat all of them.

Atletico Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone arrives to give a press conference at Luz stadium in Lisbon, on December 7, 2015 on the eve of the UEFA Champions League Group C football match between SL Benfica vs Atletico de Madrid.   AFP PHOTO / PATRICIA DE

A surprise outcome in one tie might eliminate a potential opponent to lift the trophy, but some of them have to exit at the last-16 stage simply because they've been drawn together. PSG or Chelsea, Barcelona or Arsenal, Juve or Bayern. Someone has to go in each case and that's another tough opponent down who could potentially stop Atleti's own charge.

The draw overall could barely have gone any better for Atletico; now it's down to Simeone to continue preparing the team in the right way, maintaining their focus and consistency to ensure Atleti aren't the ones to slip up.

A great opportunity lies ahead to reach the quarter-finals unscathedfrom that point on, it's anybody's to win.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.