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Roma return with Atlético opener

Having missed out on last season's group stage, Roma will be hoping for a winning start to Group C, although Atlético Madrid are likely to prove obdurate opponents.

New Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco
New Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco ©Getty Images

This week,  football fans watching UEFA Champions League matches in stadiums, online and on TV will witness the premiere of the new UEFA RESPECT TV ads, called #EqualGame. The adverts feature Ada Hegerberg, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo and amateur players and will run throughout the season to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in European Football with the motto "Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you're from, or how you play."
More information on the campaign and on the advertisements can be found in the accompanying media release and on the campaign website: www.equalgame.com.

AS Roma are back in the UEFA Champions League after a season away, and matchday one assignments do not come much tougher than a visit from Club Atlético de Madrid.

• The Spanish side's last four campaigns have all ended in defeat by Real Madrid CF. They have won their group in each of those seasons.

Previous meetings
• Atlético won both of the teams' only previous fixtures, posting 2-1 victories home and away in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup quarter-finals. José Mari (13) and Roberto (46) scored for Atlético in the home first leg, with a Luigi Di Biagio away goal (75) giving Roma hope for the return.

• The hosts were level on aggregate 32 minutes into the Stadio Olimpico return through Marco Delvecchio, but Juan Carlos Aguilera levelled on the night on the hour and Roberto's second goal of the tie (88) gave the Spanish club another 2-1 victory and a 4-2 aggregate success.

Match background

• Second in Serie A in 2016/17, Roma are in the group stage for a tenth time and the third in four years.

• The Italian side were beaten by FC Porto in last season's play-offs (1-1 away, 0-3 home). They got as far as the UEFA Europa League round of 16, where they were defeated 5-4 over two games by Olympique Lyonnais.

• That Porto reverse means Roma have won just one of their last seven home games in the UEFA Champions League – qualifying included – losing four.

• Roma are also without a win in six UEFA Champions League matches, home and away and including qualifying, since a 3-2 home victory over Bayer 04 Leverkusen on 4 November 2015. That is their only success in their last 15 games in the competition.

• The Serie A team's last encounter with Spanish opposition ended in a 1-0 home defeat by Villarreal CF in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg – although Roma went through, having prevailed 4-0 in Spain.

• Roma's overall record against Spanish clubs is W10 D4 L14; at home it reads W6 D1 L7. They are without a win in three home fixtures with Liga sides at the Stadio Olimpico, since a 2-1 scalp of Real Madrid in the 2007/08 round of 16.

• Third in Spain in 2016/17, Atlético only missed out on becoming the seventh team to win all six matches in a UEFA Champions League group when they went down 1-0 at FC Bayern München on matchday six last season.

• Diego Simeone's men went on to reach the semi-finals, but a 3-0 first-leg reversal at Real Madrid proved too much to retrieve despite a 2-1 second-leg success in the last European game to be played at the Vicente Calderón.

• Atlético won two of their three away fixtures in last year's group stage, but have managed just three victories in their last nine UEFA Champions League away matches (D2 L4).

• Atlético are unbeaten in their last three trips to Italy, most recently a 0-0 draw at Juventus on matchday six in 2014/15. Their record away to Italian clubs is W4 D2 L4; overall it is W13 D3 L7.

Coach and player links
• Simeone played for SS Lazio between 1999 and 2003, winning a league and cup double in his first campaign. Simeone also met Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco in two Rome derbies in 1999/2000, a 4-1 defeat and a 2-1 win for Lazio.

• Simeone also played for AC Pisa (1990–92) and FC Internazionale Milano (1997–99) and coached Calcio Catania (2011) in Italy. His son Giovanni is at Fiorentina and could face Di Francesco's son, Federico, when his side play Bologna FC next weekend.

• Have played together:
Federico Fazio, Diego Perotti & Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla FC, 2013/14)
Stephan El Shaarawy & Fernando Torres (AC Milan 2014/15)

• International team-mates:
Radja Nainggolan & Yannick Carrasco (Belgium)
Maxime Gonalons & Antoine Griezmann (France)
Alisson Becker & Filipe Luís (Brazil)

• Have played in Spain:
Héctor Moreno (RCD Espanyol, 2011–15)
Federico Fazio (Sevilla FC, 2007–14, 2016)
Diego Perotti (Sevilla FC, 2008–14)

• Have played in Italy:
Šime Vrsaljko (Genoa FC, 2013/14; US Sassuolo Calcio, 2014–16)
Fernando Torres (AC Milan, 2014/15)
Stefan Savić (ACF Fiorentina, 2012–15)

• Monchi spent 11 years as a player with Sevilla before becoming the club's sporting director in 2000. He left the post in April 2017, taking up a similar role with Roma this summer.

• Daniele De Rossi scored a penalty equaliser against Koke's Spain in Italy's 1-1 draw in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in October 2016.

• De Rossi also played when Italy beat Juanfran's Spain 2-0 in the UEFA EURO 2016 round of 16, while Torres scored for Spain in a 4-0 triumph over De Rossi's Italy in the UEFA EURO 2012 final.

• Saúl Ñíguez hit a hat-trick as Spain dispatched Lorenzo Pellegrini's Italy 3-1 in the semi-finals of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship this summer.

Match facts

• Roma have started the 2017/18 Serie A campaign with an away victory and a home defeat. Saturday's game at UC Sampdoria was postponed due to the weather conditions.

• The capital team have scored in all of their league fixtures in 2017.

• Alexsandar Kolarov marked his Roma debut by registering the only goal of the game at Atalanta BC on 20 August. He also struck in Serbia's 1-0 victory away to the Republic of Ireland in the European Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup on 5 September.

• Edin Džeko, the 29-goal Serie A top scorer last term, opened his account for the season in the 3-1 home loss to FC Internazionale Milano on 26 August. He added to his international tally with a double as Bosnia and Herzegovina beat Gibraltar 4-0.

• Summer signing Rick Karsdorp has yet to make his Giallorossi debut, having suffered a knee injury soon after joining the club from Feyenoord.

• Atlético followed up their opening-weekend draw (2-2) at Girona FC, when Griezmann was sent off, by winning 5-1 away to UD Las Palmas.

• Griezmann served the second game of his two-match domestic ban against Valencia CF on Saturday, a goalless draw.

• Thomas Partey, on target versus Las Palmas, equalised in Ghana's 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw against Congo on 1 September and scored a hat-trick in the return match (5-1) four days later.

• Carrasco played in Belgium's 9-0 victory over Gibraltar on 31 August and the 2-1 triumph in Greece, the latter result confirming the Red Devils' qualification for next summer's World Cup.

• Filipe Luís missed the first two games of the season with a calf strain before 90 minutes against Valencia on Saturday.