The most important game in Atlético’s season so far takes place on Tuesday evening, as the reigning Spanish champions welcome Bayer Leverkusen to the Vicente Calderón in the second-leg of their Champions League tie.
Kick-off in Madrid is set for 20:45 CET, and you won’t want to miss it!
Down by a single goal from the first-leg in Leverkusen, Atleti know that it is vital they stop the opposition from nabbing an away goal – or face having to score three. A tough task – but Atleti haven’t conceded a European goal at home in over a year.
Despite a disastrous few results in terms of Atleti’s title challenge, the only real form that Atleti have been showing lately has been at home, where they have won two out of their last three. However in Europe, Atleti have 20 of their last 22 matches at the Vicente Calderón.
Atleti will have to win without the presence of both Tiago and Diego Godin, who are both suspended following cards in the first-leg. However Los Rojiblancos welcome back Koke to the team, who missed the first-leg through injury – something Simeone is delighted with.
“Koke is one of the best midfielders around in terms of reading the game,” Cholo said at his pre-match press conference. “When he is at his best, he allows us to play more dynamically because of his quick mind.”
Leverkusen have had a huge uplift in form over the past month. Since beating Atlético at the BayArena, Bayer have gone on to win five games in a row – all without conceding a single goal, whereas Atleti haven’t won any. Simeone knows the threat Atleti face.
“Bayer are a vertical team, they play very direct football,” he said. “They have great speed in their forward line – we have to avoid the situations we couldn’t avoid in the first leg. We must be quick in the transition when they lose the ball.”
“If we do not concede a goal, that’s no good to us. Our goal is to win.”
With Mandzukic now available again to Simeone following his suspension for the game against Espanyol, our coach now has an interesting decision to make as to whether the Croatian goes back into the starting line-up. He started on the bench in the last games against Valencia and Sevilla.
“I’ve not yet talked with Mandzukic or Torres,” the Argentine said when asked who would play. “Tomorrow, when we prepare the match, we will decide.”
Miranda will start at the back alongside Giménez, in the last game before the Brazilian’s suspension for the red card against Espanyol.
Siqueira is still injured, and so Jesús Gámez looks the most likely to slot in at left-back, as the mysterious absence of Cristian Ansaldi goes on.
Both coach and players of Atleti demanded a great atmosphere at the Vicente Calderón.
“I want a noisy Calderón that pushes us to get things done. I don’t want a moment’s silence. We have to keep working and keeping the faith. We need cool heads,” Simeone said, in comments echoed by Mario Suárez.
“We know that for us, the fans are very important and are always there in matches like this,” the midfielder said.
“The fans tomorrow will be our twelfth player.”
You can see both managers’ pre-match comments in the video below.
Atlético squad list:
Goalkeepers: Moyá and Oblak.
Defenders: Juanfran, Jesús Gámez, Miranda, Giménez, Lucas, Ansaldi
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Gabi, Koke, Raúl García, Cani, Arda Turan
Forwards: Griezmann, Fernando Torres, Mandzukic, Raúl Jiménez
Form guide (last six)
Atlético – LWLDDD
Bayer Leverkusen- DWWWWW