ATLETICO EYE 2015 REPEAT
Desperate hosts looking to stage ‘impossible’ turnaround against Real
MADRID of an away goal which would oblige Atletico to win by four goals to reach the final.
Real thrashed Granada 4-0 on Saturday despite Zinedine Zidane making nine changes from the team that beat Atletico so convincingly, while Simeone only rested one player in his side’s 1-0 victory over Eibar.
With Real feeling fresher and their confidence soaring as they remain on track to win the domestic title, all signs point to the 11-time European champions piling more misery on their neighbours who they beat in the 2014 and 2016 finals.
Simeone, however, offered a typically defiant message ahead of the second leg, alluding to his side’s remarkable title win in 2014 and their Champions League successes over the likes of Barcelona, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
“On Wednesday we have an extremely difficult game which for some would be impossible, but not for us,” Simeone said.
“After the last game I told the players it was very tough, that we’re facing the best team in the world that score in every game but we can do it. I’m convinced we the past week in the midst of Atletico’s despair.
“We have to do something impossible and being Atletico Madrid we might be capable of it,” he said immediately after the first leg.
“I am convinced of it,” he repeated on Saturday. “If I wasn’t I wouldn’t say it. If we are united and understand that it is a semifinal at home we have a chance.”
Atletico’s home record in the Champions League under Simeone does give some small cause for optimism.
Atletico have won 17 and drawn can, if I wasn’t I wouldn’t say so.”
Captain Gabi, meanwhile, is taking inspiration from Barcelona’s record-breaking comeback from a four-goal deficit against Paris St Germain this season.
“Of course we can do it, look at Barcelona, and they had an even more difficult result,” he said.
“We’re convinced we can do it, we’re going to fight for it and if not we can at least go out with our heads held high.”
Real have won only one of their last eight league games against Atletico but have found the magic formula against their rivals in the Champions League, which winger Lucas Vazquez said was due to their history in the competition.
“Real Madrid have a special connection with Europe and the fans feel the same way. Playing in a Champions League game for Madrid gives you goosebumps,” he said.
“Every game against Atletico is difficult because they are a great team but we know how to beat them.” Reuters four of their 21 Champions League home games in the past four years, keeping 17 clean sheets.
Of those results, though, only those gained against modest opponents like Austria Vienna, Olympiakos, Malmo and Astana would be enough for Atletico to go through.
Most Atletico fans would settle just for finally beating Real on a famous last European night at the Calderon, even if it doesn’t stop their bitterest rivals from making the final once more. AFP
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone (left) and Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.