After Gameiro’s spectacular Hat-Trick within five minutes (80′, 82′, 85′) on their last Liga match against Sporting de Gijón, Atleti faces pressure focusing back to the Champions League.
This will be their first leg match at the Round of 16 this season, and the first match for the Champions since December.
Atlético Madrid will travel and start the round in Leverkusen, hoping to score the necessary goals and qualify for the Quarter Finals after the second leg in Calderón.
Kick-off at BayArena is set for 20:45 CET.
We are having a similar scenario from two years ago. On March 2015 and after two matches with Bayer, penalties defined Atleti’s qualification (1-1) and after: (4-2), for that year’s Quarter Finals.
Many interviews and reports show that Bayer’s coach Roger Schmidt and players agree that Cholo’s men are not the same as two years ago: the team is stronger.
Although, after winning their last three games in LaLiga, the Rojiblancos are feeling confident and are looking forward to reach another Champions Final this year.
As we all know, fantastic news came along with Oblak’s return. The Slovenian has trained with total normality since last Wednesday, before the team faced Sporting. Receiving total medical clearance, he has been called for Leverkusen.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 19, 2017
We have to take into account that Cholo’s men won the group round last December. Atleti wanted to secure their place on the Round of 16 with perfect 6 wins out of 6. Unfortunately, a goal from Lewandowski defined Bayern Munich’s win. Our place was secure, but perhaps not as they expected.
Griezmann and Gameiro are the top scorers so far, with Carrasco and Torres following. Both French men have been cheered for giving the team 9 goals each and for being a fantastic pair on assists. Fans around the world await for all four to score as beautifully as they have, especially when it comes to the Champions League.
Bayer have had its ups and downs during the German League and friendlies, currently being on the 8th place at the Bundesliga Table.
With the Mexican Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández being the protagonist on several Bayer’s matches, he will definitely be a threat Rojiblancos will have to focus on. If we remember, ‘Chicharito’ was the one knocking out Atleti of 2014-15 Quarter Finals with Real Madrid. We hope he does not have the same chances with Bayer.
Bayer is definitely a strong rival. Schmidt’s tactics have defined the team’s style for the last years. Simeone and the team have to focus on what matters the most right now: getting through this round. Cholo expressed his respects for Bayer Leverkusen and their coach Roger Schmidt, praising their strength and approaches.
“We are going to find a team that deploys everything their coach asks: heart, enthusiasm, intention and a lot of intensity. They are probably one of the most intense rivals we have played in the Champions” , were some of his words on yesterday’s press conference, “I think that the team has grown in this beginning of 2017 compared with the end of 2016. I consider that still we have a large margin of improvement and hopefully we can breach it”.
We know Atleti has all the potential to go all the way through the Champions’ Final, as they have demonstrated on the last three years. It is time to prove it again. Everyone on Atlético’s side dreams about them being the winners. No challenge is big enough for the Rojiblancos.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 20, 2017
Squad List for this Tuesday:
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak, Moreira
Defense: Filipe Luis, Savic, Lucas, Vrsaljko, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Carrasco, Gabi, Thomas, Gaitán, Caio
Strikers: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro