Champions League

Atletico ready to challenge in Europe

2014-09-30 08:27
Diego Simeone (Gallo Images)

Madrid - Atletico Madrid's Champions League game at home to Juventus on Wednesday will be a chance for the Spanish champions to prove they have the firepower to challenge in Europe again this season.

Diego Costa, top scorer for Atletico last term when they reached the final of the continent's elite club competition, has departed for Chelsea and a lack of recent goals had prompted murmurs that the side will struggle without the Brazil-born Spain striker.

Saturday's thumping 4-0 La Liga win at home to Sevilla appeared to suggest otherwise, although the Juve defence, which has yet to concede a goal in five Serie A games this season, will be a far tougher test than the Andalusians' more porous back line.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone singled out his midfielders as one reason why they were able to see off Sevilla so comfortably at the weekend and praised the team for their work rate, one of the keys to their surprise success in 2013-14.

A five-man midfield of Saul, Gabi, Koke, Arda Turan and Tiago -- who played for Juve from 2007-10 -- had given the team the stability it had perhaps been lacking in previous games, Simeone added.

"That gave us solidity in our play, intensity and helped us win the ball back," the Argentine told a news conference.

"It was positive that we managed 90 very good minutes, above all for the work done.

"Although it's also true that in football if you are efficient in front of goal everything is easier."

The player Atletico bought to replace Costa, Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic, broke his nose in the 3-2 Group A defeat at Olympiakos Piraeus on Champions League matchday one and needed surgery.

He will have to wear a striking black protective mask for the foreseeable future and played just over 70 minutes of Saturday's game at the Calderon without scoring on his return to action.


Simeone knows Juve well from his eight seasons playing in Serie A, when he had stints at Pisa, Inter Milan and Lazio.

The former Argentina captain helped Juve win the title in 2002 when he scored for Lazio in a 4-2 win against Inter that handed the Bianconeri the title.

Juve, who won their opening Group A game at home to Malmo 2-0, have several players familiar with playing at the Calderon, including former Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata and former Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente.

Morata spent two years in Atletico's youth academy and was a ballboy at the Calderon before joining Real and moved on to Juve at the end of last season.

Recently back from a knee injury, he struck his first goal for the club in Saturday's 3-0 win at Atalanta.

"The injury was tough, a setback immediately after arriving at the club," Morata told reporters.

"Any team we play motivates me and makes me want to get out on the pitch," he added.

Juve playmaker Andrea Pirlo and his Italy team mate Andrea Barzagli, a defender, have yet to play this season due to hip and Achilles injuries respectively.


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

Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Basel v Manchester City, TBA 21:45
Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Real Madrid v PSG, TBA 21:45
Porto v Liverpool, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Chelsea v Barcelona, TBA 21:45
Bayern Munchen v Besiktas, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma, TBA 21:45
Sevilla v Manchester United, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 06 March 2018
PSG v Real Madrid, TBA 21:45
Liverpool v Porto, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Manchester City v Basel, TBA 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus, TBA 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

English Premiership flutter

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


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

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.