Reloaded Atletico visits Galatasaray in Champions League

MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid invested heavily in new players this summer with the aim of contending for a Champions League title that it was seconds away from winning two years ago.

The new-look attack will get its first test of the European campaign on Tuesday when the 2014 finalist travels to Turkey to face Galatasaray.

Diego Simeone will hope his team can shake off its first loss of the season when it fell 2-1 to Barcelona on Saturday, and recover its winning form for the first two rounds that included an impressive 3-0 victory at Sevilla.

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Atletico's coach is opting for a ''cautious'' approach for the Champions League opener in Turkey before a second Group C match against Benfica, which he called their ''strongest opponent.''

''We start away from home, which isn't a good thing and demands a lot of focus,'' Simeone said. ''Our first two fixtures therefore invite a cautious approach. But as we've always done here, we'll just focus on the first game.''

Benfica hosts newcomer Astana in the group's other match.

Here are some things to know about Tuesday's Group C matches:



Atletico was agonizingly close to winning the Champions League Cup in 2014, when Real Madrid equalized in stoppage time before winning the final 4-1 in extra periods.

And after Atletico fell to Madrid in last year's quarterfinals before Barcelona dethroned it as Spanish league champions, the club responded by making its first major overhaul of its squad since Simeone's arrival midway through the 2011-12 season.

The club sold several players, including Arda Turan, Miranda and Raul Garcia, who had proved critical to its winning run of 2014 Spanish league, 2013 Copa del Rey and 2012 Europa League titles.

Striker Mario Mandzukic also left, making way for a spending spree of a reported 140 million euros ($160 million) to bring in Colombia striker Jackson Martinez, and forwards Luciano Vietto and Yannick Carrasco, among others.

Simeone has given starts to both Jackson and veteran Fernando Torres, while France forward Antoine Griezmann is blossoming into one of Europe's finest talents.

''Jackson is a finisher. He's also very strong in the air and good with both feet,'' Simeone said. ''We have competition for places here with Fernando Torres and now Luciano too. All the players like to compete, which is great for us.''



Galatasaray will be looking to break a recent run of poor results in Europe, as well as Atletico's strong form.

The defending Turkish champions haven't won their last eight matches in European competition.

Atletico, meanwhile, has only lost once in 12 meetings with Turkish teams.



Benfica hasn't had much impact on the Champions League since it won back-to-back European titles in the 1960s. Even so, it aims to make its experience tell when it welcomes Astana, the first team from Kazakhstan to reach the group phase.

The Lisbon club is making its sixth consecutive Champions League appearance, and has lost just one of its last 14 European games at the Stadium of Light.

Benfica's form is also improving quickly after a shaky start to the season. It thrashed crosstown rival Belenenses 6-0 last weekend, with striking duo Jonas and Konstantinos Mitroglou each getting a pair of goals.

Coach Rui Vitoria is making his Champions League debt after taking charge in the summer.


Associated Press writers Joseph Wilson in Barcelona and Barry Hatton in Lisbon, Portugal, contributed to this report.