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Atlético return to the spotlight

Club Atlético de Madrid return to the UEFA Champions League after an eleven-year absence with a visit to one of the tournament's perennials in recent years, PSV Eindhoven.

PSV won a fourth successive Eredivisie title in 2007/08
PSV won a fourth successive Eredivisie title in 2007/08 ©AFP

Club Atlético de Madrid will end an absence of eleven years from Europe's élite club competition when they step out at the Philips Stadion against PSV Eindhoven on Matchday 1.

• Atlético last competed in the UEFA Champions League in 1996/97, when they lost out to AFC Ajax in the quarter-finals, and it is with a match against another Dutch side – the Eredivise champions PSV – that they mark their return to the continental spotlight.

• PSV, who are embarking on their 12th consecutive campaign in Europe's premier club competition, will hope to improve on last term's efforts which ended in elimination at the group stage for the first time since 2003/04.

• PSV finished third in their section last season with a record of W2 D1 L3. It was a campaign that featured two different coaches at the helm – Jan Wouters replacing Ronald Koeman after his departure for Valencia CF. A third coach, Sef Vergoossen, then oversaw their subsequent UEFA Cup campaign, in which PSV defeated Helsingborgs IF and Tottenham Hotspur FC before a quarter-final defeat by ACF Fiorentina.

• Atlético's own UEFA Cup campaign last term ended with a 1-0 aggregate defeat by Bolton Wanderers FC in the Round of 32.

• They had entered the tournament through the UEFA Intertoto Cup, beating CF Gloria 1922 Bistrita, before subsequent victories against FK Vojvodina and Kayseri Erciyesspor took them to the group stage, where they topped their section with three wins and a draw.

• After finishing fourth in the Spanish Liga in 2007/08, Atlético secured their return to the UEFA Champions League by defeating FC Schalke 04 in the third qualifying round in August.

• Atlético lost the first leg 1-0 in Germany but bounced back to win the return 4-0 through goals from Sergio Agüero (18), Diego Forlán (50), Luis García (82) and Maxi Rodríguez (86).

• This is the teams' first ever meeting, but PSV have faced Spanish visitors ten times previously, recording four wins, five draws and one defeat.

• FC Barcelona are the only Spanish side to have won at the Philips Stadion, plundering a 3-2 success in the second leg of their 1995/96 UEFA Champions League quarter-final to complete a 5-4 aggregate triumph.

• The last visitors to Eindhoven from Spain, RC Deportivo La Coruña, also went home happy after their 3-2 defeat by PSV in the concluding group stage game in 2003/04 ensured their progress at their hosts' expense, courtesy of the head-to-head rule.

• Atlético have lost all four two-legged ties they have contested with Dutch clubs and have an unhappy record in the Netherlands.

• They surrendered a 1-0 first-leg lead when going down 3-0 to AFC Ajax on their first visit to the Netherlands for a European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final in 1970/71. 'Atleti' lost twice at FC Groningen in the 1980s and when they did finally avoid defeat on Dutch soil, against Ajax in the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, they duly lost the return leg in Spain 3-2.

• PSV coach Huub Stevens has a good record against Spanish opposition. As a player with PSV, he was in the team that beat Sporting Gijón 1-0 on aggregate in the 1979/80 UEFA Cup first round.

• As coach of FC Schalke 04, Stevens oversaw victories against Valencia CF and CD Tenerife en route to their 1996/97 UEFA Cup final win over FC Internazionale Milano. His Schalke side lost 1-0 at home against RCD Mallorca in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League group stage but then defeated them 4-0 on their travels.

• PSV trio Otman Bakkal, Dirk Marcellis and Erik Pieters were in the Netherlands team beaten by an Argentina side featuring Atlético's Sergio Agüero in the last eight of the Olympic Football Tournament in China last month. Bakkal scored for the Netherlands but it was not enough to prevent a 2-1 extra-time reverse.

• PSV defender Jan Kromkamp had a brief spell playing alongside Atlético forward Diego Forlán with Villarreal CF during the 2005/06 season.

• Atlético attacker Luis García played for Liverpool FC against PSV in the 2006/07 group stage while goalkeeper Grégory Coupet was in the Olympique Lyonnais side that eliminated PSV in the first knockout round the previous season. He was also part of the team that lost on penalties to the Dutch side in the 2004/05 quarter-finals.

• The Spanish club's new Czech defender, Tomáš Ujfaluši, featured in the Fiorentina side that won 2-0 at PSV in the UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg last term.

• For Atlético's Dutch international John Heitinga, the tie represents the first opportunity to play a club match back in his home country since his summer transfer to Spain from Ajax.

• Atlético may have waited eleven years to return to the competition but their squad features two UEFA Champions League winners in Maniche (with FC Porto in 2003/04) and García (with Liverpool in 2004/05).

• PSV were winners of the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1988. Atlético were beaten finalists in 1974.

• The other Group D tie on Matchday 1 pits Olympique de Marseille against Liverpool.