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Champions League group stage recap: Atlético do it the hard way

A dramatic Matchday 6 away win spared Atlético an early exit from the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League.

All Atlético's group stage goals

Atlético got themselves into a sticky position during the UEFA Champions League group stage, and at one point were looking set to tumble out of Europe altogether, but a vintage performance at Porto on Matchday 6 turned things around.

Round of 16: Atlético vs Man. United

Campaign so far

Highlights: Porto 1-3 Atlético

Group B runners-up: W2 D1 L3 F7 A8
Top scorer: Antoine Griezmann (4)

15/09: Atlético 0-0 Porto
28/09: Milan 1-2 Atlético (Leão 20; Griezmann 84, Suárez 90+7pen)
19/10: Atlético 2-3 Liverpool (Griezmann 20 34; Salah 8 78pen, Keïta 13)
03/11: Liverpool 2-0 Atlético (Diogo Jota 13, Mané 21)
24/11: Atlético 0-1 Milan (Messias Junior 87)
07/12: Porto 1-3 Atlético (Sergio Oliveira 90+6pen; Griezmann 56, Correa 90, De Paul 90+2)

Campaign in ten words: Struggled in a tough group but delivered when it mattered.

UEFA.com reporter's view

It was a campaign that never really got going until the win against Porto on Matchday 6. A goalless draw with the same opponents on Matchday 1 was followed by a last-gasp win in Milan which did not have the galvanising effect many had anticipated. Successive defeats against Liverpool left Atlético with their backs against the wall, but that's just how Diego Simeone's side like it.

What we've learned

Coach Simeone often talks about his side's ability to "suffer", and they had to draw on all that experience in Group B. Uncharacteristically poor at their home fortress, it was ultimately Atlético's away performances that saw them through. If they can get back to winning ways at home, then they can go far.

Fantasy star performers

Highlights: Milan 1-2 Atlético

Antoine Griezmann – 30 points
Koke – 20 points
José María Giménez – 20 points

Squad changes

In: Reinildo Mandava, Daniel Wass
Out: Sergio Camus, Kieran Trippier

Clubs could register a maximum of three new eligible players prior to the knockout stage. Since 2018/19, it no longer matters whether those players have already played in the competition for another club, even for another club still in the competition.

Key stats

• Atlético have only failed to get out of the group stage once under Simeone, in 2017/18: the season they won the UEFA Europa League.

• Atleti's tally of seven points was the lowest total of any side that qualified for this season's round of 16. The lowest ever remains Zenit's six points in 2013/14.

• The Matchday 6 win against Porto was Atlético's 50th victory in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.