Torres' return lifts Atletico

2015-01-19 13:12
Fernando Torres was unveiled at the Vicente Calderon.

Madrid - When Fernando Torres left Atletico Madrid for Liverpool in 2007, the idea of the Spanish capital's second club being favourites to beat record winners Barcelona in a two-legged King's Cup tie would have been unthinkable.

Now that the 30-year-old Spain forward is back in his boyhood team on loan, he has seen at first hand how coach Diego Simeone has shaken up the status quo and transformed Atletico into genuine contenders at home and in Europe.

While Barca may still be expected to edge the Cup quarter-final ahead of Wednesday's first leg at the Nou Camp, the way Atletico have been playing under the inspirational Argentine the past couple of seasons means they have every chance of progressing to the last four.

Torres struck twice in last week's 2-2 draw in their last 16, second leg at Real Madrid as Simeone's men dumped the holders out 4-2 on aggregate.

The return of "El Nino" (The Kid) has lifted the Atletico players, as well as long-suffering fans already on a high after the club won La Liga last season for the first time in 18 years and lost out to Real in the Champions League final.

"The arrival of Fernando is very good for us," midfielder Raul Garcia told Spanish television after Sunday's 2-0 La Liga win at home to Granada.

"He gives the team extra options," added the Spain international. "Good players always understand each other."

Barca, who thrashed Elche 9-0 on aggregate in the last 16, also warmed up for Wednesday's clash with a win in La Liga, Lionel Messi netting his 22nd hat-trick in Spain's top flight in a 4-0 success at Deportivo La Coruna.

Victory in Galicia came a week after Barca beat Atletico 3-1 at the Nou Camp in La Liga but Spain playmaker Andres Iniesta warned against taking another win for granted.

Villarreal or Getafe await in the last four, while on the other side of the draw Sevilla play Espanyol and Malaga meet Athletic Bilbao, whose 23 Cup triumphs are bettered only by Barca's 26.

"These will be a fun couple of weeks but it will be a very intense tie and Atletico are tough opponents," Iniesta told reporters.

"We will have to do things as well as possible without making any mistakes," he added.

Barca last won the Cup in 2012 and Atletico beat Real to secure their 10th triumph in 2013.

Read more on:    atletico madrid  |  la liga  |  fernando torres  |  soccer

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Who was the best summer signing in the EPL?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.