Champions League recap: Atlético as mean as ever

After eliminating the holders, can Diego Simeone's side go all the way this time?

Watch every Atlético Champions League goal so far this season
Watch every Atlético Champions League goal so far this season

Season after season, no side shows the hunger for a nose-to-nose battle quite like Diego Simeone's Atlético.

Rule changes for this season


Season so far

Highlights: Liverpool 2-3 Atlético
Highlights: Liverpool 2-3 Atlético

Form guide: W5 D1 L2 F12 A7
Top scorer: Álvaro Morata (3)

Their campaign in ten words: Against all odds, Atlético find themselves here again. This time?

Group D runners-up
Atlético 2-2 Juventus (Savić 70, Herrera 90; Cuadrado 48, Matuidi 65)
Lokomotiv Moskva 0-2 Atlético (João Félix 48, Thomas 58)
Atlético 1-0 Leverkusen (Morata 78)
Leverkusen 2-1 Atlético (Thomas 41og, Volland 55; Morata 90+4)
Juventus 1-0 Atlético (Dybala 45+2)
Atlético 2-0 Lokomotiv Moskva (João Félix 17pen, Felipe 54)

Round of 16

First leg (18 February): Atlético 1-0 Liverpool (Saúl Ñíguez 4)
Second leg (11 March): Liverpool 2-3aet Atlético (Wijnaldum 43, Firmino 94; Llorente 97 105'+1, Morata 120'+1)
(4-2 agg.)

Highlights: Atlético 1-0 Liverpool
Highlights: Atlético 1-0 Liverpool

Few gave Los Rojiblancos much hope against the reigning champions, but Diego Simeone's side continue to pull results out of the bag. Backs-to-the-wall defending and lethal counterattacks have propelled Atlético to the last eight once again.

Expert view: Joseph Walker, UEFA.com Atlético reporter

Atlético have had their ups and downs domestically this season, but have saved their best performances for Europe's premier club competition. From their resilience in coming back from two goals down against Juventus on Matchday 1, to their logic-defying victory over Liverpool in the last 16, their never-say-die attitude and fighting spirit are just two of the reasons no team will want to face them in the quarter-finals.

Who's in charge?

Diego Simeone is closing in on a decade at the club, with Atlético enjoying a remarkable spell under their former midfielder, including two UEFA Europa League successes and two UEFA Champions League final appearances. The biggest prize remains tantalisingly close again.

Key quote: "Football matches are not won by the sides who play better, but by the ones who are absolutely certain of what they're doing."

Tactical approach

Diego Simeone's sides are designed for endurance
Diego Simeone's sides are designed for endurance©AFP/Getty Images

Simeone's unmistakable, unapologetic, belligerent 4-4-2 formation often features four central midfielders who look to squeeze the life out of the opposition, encouraging the likes of Diego Costa and João Félix to spring on the break.

Star player: Jan Oblak

Likened by Simeone to Barcelona star Lionel Messi, the Slovenian goalkeeper has made the difference for Atlético time and time again, pulling off seemingly impossible saves with relative ease. His Man of the Match display in the round of 16 second leg against Liverpool was his team's ticket to the last eight.