Football Sport

Atletico gearing up

Atletico Madrid coach, Diego Simeone said on Tuesday that Bayer Leverkusen is a dangerous team, and expects a similar match to the first leg when they host the German squad at the Vicente Calderon stadium on Wednesday (March 15), trying to reach the Champions League quarter-finals for the fourth season in a row.

Having romped to a 4-2 victory in Germany in the first leg, Atletico has a clear advantage, and with their talisman Antoine Griezmann back in form, they have high hopes of progressing.

“Our rival has an interesting offensive game, they have a fast start of the game and they will be dangerous. The match we won in Germany we had a lot of troubles during the 90-minutes and tomorrow I expect a similar match. I always tell them this competition is dangerous and not because of what happened in Barcelona. I have always said it so we have to remain alert and the best way to do it is to begin strong,” Simeone said in a news conference previewing the match.

Atletico Madrid will rely on leading striker Griezmann. The Frenchman has six goals in his last seven games, with his 84th minute strike helping the Rojiblancos to a 1-0 win at Granada on Saturday (March 11).

Forward Kevin Gameiro scored, and had to assist in the impressive victory in Germany but stomach pains meant he was left out of the squad for Wednesday’s match.

Centre back, Diego Godin said it is very important for the team to reach again the last 8 of the Champions League.

“We have to live it with hope and give it the importance that deserves, we have played two finals in three years, and we have the chance to be on the last eight of Europe. It’s something very important for us, for the club, and that’s why tomorrow’s match, it deserves so much respect so as our rival. We want to be on the last eight,” Godin said.

Torres, who also got on the scoresheet in Leverkusen, returns to the squad for the first time since suffering head trauma against Deportivo La Coruna on March 2, although captain Gabi and defender Filipe Luis are suspended.

Bayer Leverkusen Coach, Tayfun Korkut said his team will not drive crazily and will wait for their chances.

“The score is very clear. We know what we need and we know it will be difficult. They play according on what they need. We need to get into the match looking for our chances but at the same time we won’t drive crazy because we have enough time. Then there will be time to risk but we have to work a lot, to work a lot so we can change our dynamic, and that’s what I can say right now,” Korkut said.

Leverkusen are in a process of transition after Roger Schmidt was sacked on March 5 following an embarrassing 6-2 thrashing at Borussia Dortmund and his successor Tayfun Korkut said the odds were stacked against his side progressing.

Asked by team mate Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, forward Kevin Volland said the Mexican is a key player on the team.

“Since I arrived to the club I had a good sensation about playing with him (Javier Hernandez). He is one of our best players, it’s very cold in front of the goal and has the instinct to finish the chances. I think I can copy a lot about him and I try to complement with him. It’s a pleasure to play with him,” Volland said at the news conference.

Defender Omer Toprak misses the game after suffering an ankle problem in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen, adding to the absences of the suspended Hakan Calhanoglu, Benjamin Henrichs and the injured Jonathan Tah.

The list doesn’t end there, captain Lars Bender didn’t travel to the Spanish capital due to ankle problems and neither did the young promise, Kai Havertz.

The Germans hope to have goalkeeper Bernd Leno back after he underwent nose surgery at the weekend.

Source: Reuters

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